Navy ship strikes bridge in Florida

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 9/27/2013

A bridge that carries 56,000 vehicles a day over the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Fla., will be closed indefinitely for repairs after a Navy ship that was being towed struck the underside of the bridge deck on Thursday, Sept. 26.

The USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin was being towed to a ship yard when a very tall part of the ship struck the Mathews Bridge that carries U.S. Route 90 over the river.

“It was being towed by some tugboats, and it had a ramp where it carried military vehicles. The ramp was in the up position and apparently the ramp caught part of the beam that went across the north side of the Mathews Bridge,” Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Gina Busscher told “Land Line Now.”

“This is about 150 feet up in the air, so this was a big Navy ship,” she said. “What’s so amazing about it is that it did hit the underside of a bridge that is about 150 feet up in the air from the water level.”

Busscher said emergency contractors are set to go to work once FDOT figures out how to fix the beam. Until then, the bridge will be closed indefinitely.

“We don’t have an estimated reopening. We’re just letting everybody know so they can find an alternate route,” she said.

FDOT suggests traffic take the Isaiah David Hart Bridge, also known as the Hart Bridge, which carries U.S. Route 1 Alternate and Florida State Road 228 over the St. Johns River.

Traffic can also use the Dames Point Bridge that carries Interstate 235 East Beltway.

“Land Line Now” News Anchor Reed Black contributed to this story.

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