100 mph gusts from Beryl took out Mathews Bridge

Temporary platform being used for painting damaged during tropical storm

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Lingering winds of Tropical Storm Beryl kept the contractor from making needed repairs and inspections for two days after the storm passed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Transportation says the wind gusts from Tropical Storm Beryl that damaged temporary structures being used to paint the Mathews Bridge were measured at over 100 mph.

The bridge was the first in the area to close May 27 when winds from Beryl began to pick up that afternoon.  When the storm passed, workers discovered some of the sheet-metal platforms that allow workers to paint over moving traffic were twisted and mangled

While only 16 percent of the temporary platforms were damaged, it kept the bridge connecting Arlington with downtown closed for 60 hours.

About 66,500 motorists use the bridge every day.

SLIDESHOW: Bridge still closed 60 hours after the storm

An FDOT review of the incident said wind meters on the bridge recorded sustained winds at 37 mph and several gusts over 100 mph early in the morning of May 28 -- Memorial Day.

FDOT officials said the platforms were designed to sustain 65 mph wind.

The FDOT said similar temporary platforms have been sued on two major bridge maintenance projects in Texas that survived tropical storms and hurricanes in 2010 with minimal damage.

The contractor has taken additional steps to increase the wind resistance of the platforms, including adding 67 percent more  attachments and cables.

The FDOT notes the structures are still designed to break away during hurricane-force winds to avoid damage to the bridge itself.

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