4th of July traffic: What you need to know if you're heading downtown

If you opt to see fireworks show from the water, there's also rules for boaters

By Allyson Henning - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Thousands of people will pour into the downtown Jacksonville area for the Fourth of July fireworks show. 

If you don’t want to fight traffic and search for a parking space, News4Jax will also bring the show to you live during our hourlong Red White and Boom! special, which starts at 9 p.m.

But if you’re planning on braving the crowds, you'll want to come out early to get a good spot for the fireworks display, which sets off about 9:45 p.m. Thursday.

There will also be some road closures that might affect traffic in the area.

Starting at 1 p.m. Thursday, the right-hand northbound lane of the Acosta Bridge will be closed to traffic. The entire bridge will close at 9:15 p.m. -- 30 minutes before the fireworks are scheduled to start.

According to city officials, the bridge will reopen once all the firework trailers and debris are cleared.

The Main Street Bridge will also shut down at 9:30 p.m. and reopen once the show is over -- sometime around 10 p.m. All other bridges will be open.

The areas surrounding the St. Johns River downtown are expected to be packed, which is why it's recommended you come early to claim a space to view the Independence Day fireworks show.

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County-by-county: Best spots to see 4th of July fireworks

COJ fireworks viewing map

A map provided by the city highlights in red some of the best places to watch. The best spots to view the fireworks display are along the Northbank and Southbank, from the Brooklyn area, and under the Fuller Warren Bridge near the Riverside Arts Market site.

The city said open space at the Jacksonville Landing, including the courtyard, will be open for spectators to set up chairs and watch the show, although no businesses remain open.

For those coming downtown by car, public and private parking lots and garages downtown will be open. Prices will vary, depending on the location. City officials told News4Jax that metered parking spots will be free.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, you can't stop and park, or get out of your vehicle, on any bridge to watch fireworks. Bridges will be monitored by the Florida Highway Patrol and police said there will be tow trucks ready to move vehicles if necessary.

Instead of driving downtown, some people will be opting to get even closer and watch from the water. 

"It’s very cool because, depending on where you put the boat, you can see the fireworks from downtown, from the beach and from Orange Park," said longtime boater Paul Stoff. "You see tons of people on the shore waiting and you see all the people walking in from both of the banks. There’s boats everywhere."

WATCH: What you need to know if you're planning to view the fireworks show from the water

That’s including the St. Johns River Taxi. There's a special fireworks cruise Thursday evening, though there were only a few spots left as of Wednesday.

"You see the city and all of its splendor beautiful at night. And the firework show is really spectacular. The city does a terrific job and there’s no better place to watch it then on a boat," said Heather Surface, owner of the St. Johns River Taxi. 

If you plan on bringing your boat downtown Thursday night, here's what you need to know:

  • Boats will not be able to anchor down anywhere on the Southbank, except for east of the Duval County School Board building or 300 feet south of the Acosta Bridge near Baptist hospital.
  • That entire area in between will become a "no movement zone" once the barge carrying fireworks arrives, which will be about 9:15 p.m.
  • This year, all docks at the Landing are closed to the public because of damage.

If you still have questions about where you are allowed to be, JSO, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Coast Guard will be out on the water to help as needed.

As for Stoff, he said he has even found the "golden spot" to watch: "Right right south of the Hart Bridge."

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