2 years later, Main Street Bridge repairs finally complete

Rehab of iconic Jacksonville bridge began in spring 2016

By Colette DuChanois - Web producer, Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter

The construction work on the Main Street Bridge in downtown Jacksonville has finally been completed, the Florida Department of Transportation announced Thursday. 

The rehabilitation of the Main Street Bridge, one of the oldest and most recognizable landmarks in the city, often caused weekend and nighttime closures for two years.

The $10.7 million project began in spring 2016 and included the replacement of mechanical and electrical components, the installation of new traffic and sidewalk gates, and the addition of new lighting and traffic cameras.

“Jacksonville’s Main Street Bridge is an iconic structure to the city of Jacksonville and also to our state. FDOT remains committed to being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and ensuring our investments in infrastructure, like this, maximize the lifespan of existing structures,” FDOT District 2 Secretary Greg Evans said. “We drive these roads every day and so do our friends, families and neighbors. We’re glad to see this project come to a close.”

The Main Street Bridge, which is officially named the John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge, after the city's longest-serving mayor, was built in the late 1930s and opened to traffic in 1941.

IMAGES: Main Street Bridge: Then and Now

It currently stands true to its original form with a vertical lift bridge, which made rehab work more complex than for other bridges.

The bolts were heated and put into place, which made for a rock-solid structure, according to FDOT officials, but it's a technique that isn't used anymore.

To do the work, a temporary platform had to be constructed, and every time there were high winds or severe weather, it had to be taken down and later rebuilt. 

A temporary electrical system also had to be put in place to keep the bridge working and traffic moving during peak hours. With the temporary system, the lift moved at half-speed, which kept drivers waiting an extra two to three minutes every time it went up for a passing boat.

But with the work finally finished, Jacksonville drivers and pedestrians will no longer have to anticipate delays and detours when they travel across the Main Street Bridge. They may still be stopped, however, when the bridge is raised and lowered, which happens about 1,400 times a year.