JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Six of the seven iconic bridges that span the St. Johns River in Jacksonville are in need of a facelift -- or other projects -- and most of them will be getting that work done at the same time.
But the Florida Department of Transportation said it has a plan to keep traffic flowing across the river, despite almost daily closures of the bridges leading to downtown.
Main Street Bridge
FDOT officials said the construction on the Main Street Bridge, which has been underway for nearly two years, involves a tedious process of replacing major mechanical and electrical components.
A special platform constructed for the project has to be taken apart and rebuilt every time there is severe weather.
Those delays have pushed the completion date back several times. It's now expected to be finished this spring.
Drivers who thought the drawbridge lift was moving at a snail's pace when a boat approached can rest assured that they're not imagining things. The bridge is on a temporary power system that moves the lift at half speed, officials said.
Crews are replacing parts of the deck on the Mathews Bridge in a short rehab project that began in January. It's expected to last under 60 days.
Construction should be completed by the end of the month.
When the Mathews and Main Street bridges are both closed overnight for repairs, drivers are detoured to the Acosta and Hart bridges, which are also undergoing rehab work.
Routine maintenance for the Acosta Bridge involves crews upgrading fenders underneath the bridge that protect the concrete pillars.
Repairs to the cables that hold up the concrete platform of the Hart Bridge began in 2016. The completion date was pushed back to early 2018.
Periodic lane closures are necessary for those projects as well.
Fuller Warren Bridge
The Fuller Warren Bridge is in the beginning stages of a widening project that is connected to the ongoing Overland Bridge Project.
Drivers are constantly burdened with road closures, traffic shifts and detours for the project.
According to the FDOT, the bridge project will widen the Fuller Warren Bridge, expanding northbound and southbound lanes from three lanes to four lanes each way.
The project will also add a shared use path for pedestrians and bicyclists that connects the San Marco and Riverside neighborhoods.
The express toll lanes coming soon along I-295 from I-95 to the Buckman Bridge will also affect traffic.
The Buckman Bridge will see some construction for the addition of signs, lane stripping and other elements related to the express lanes project.
The bridge will also be getting digital signs that relay information and the current speed limit for the bridge, which could fluctuate based on what's happening with traffic.
Dames Point Bridge
The only bridge not under active construction is the Dames Point Bridge.
Rehab work on the under bridge deck was done last year.
An FDOT spokesperson said the department didn't plan to have all of the bridge projects going on at once, and they are constantly working with contractors to make sure multiple bridges aren't closed in the same area.
For example, they said, the Mathews and Hart bridges will not be closed at the same time because one serves as the detour for the other during a closure.