Fifth most traveled bridge to be replaced

Fifth most traveled bridge to be replaced

For the more than 14,000 motorists that regularly use the Lakeside Drive Bridge to cross the Ortega River canal, it is no comfort to learn the thoroughfare they use daily was ranked fifth among “most traveled bridges in need of repair” in Northeast Florida, according to a report from the Florida Department of Transportation.

The bridge, which was built in 1960, is not ancient as far as infrastructure in the United States goes. Barely more than a car’s length at just under 30 feet, the narrow bridge – 38 feet from curb to curb – received a “structurally deficient” rating of 48.3 on a scale of 100 by the National Bridge Inventory as a result of its last inspection in February 2014.

While the evaluation stated the Lakeside Drive Bridge met the minimum tolerable limits to be left in place as is, its substructure was deemed in “poor condition, with advanced section loss, deterioration, spalling or scour [holes caused by swiftly moving water].” The report also noted that its railings and guardrails were not meeting currently acceptable standards or required safety features.

Factors used to calculate the sufficiency rating include structural adequacy and safety; serviceability and functional obsolescence (which considers number of lanes, average daily traffic, roadway width, and 10 other factors), and essentiality for public use (considering detour length and average daily traffic), according to the Recording and Coding Guide for the Structure Inventory and Appraisal of the Nation’s Bridges (Report No. FHWA-PD-96-001; online at www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/mtguide.pdf).

The bridge inspection report also noted that trucks constituted five percent of the average daily traffic and projected in 20 years the number of all vehicles using the bridge would be close to 25,000.

The cost of bridge safety

Florida ranks 42nd nationally in the number of structurally deficient bridges. Two percent of its bridges – 243 – are currently in need of repair.

When the U.S. Department of Transportation released its 2014 National Bridge Inventory database in April 2015, the Fuller Warren Bridge topped the list of Florida’s 10 most heavily structurally comprised bridges. It was built one year earlier than the Lakeside Drive Bridge and has 146,000 daily crossings. According to a report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, it would take $150 million to repair the Fuller Warren Bridge – but that’s on the state’s dime.

To address the structural issues of the Lakeside Drive Bridge, Jacksonville’s City Council voted in May to appropriate $700,000 to replace that bridge. The city anticipates that construction will begin early in 2016, according to James Croft, City of Jacksonville public communications officer. Based on the bridge inspection report, 50 feet of structure improvement is recommended, working out to $14,000 per foot.

“The Lakeside Drive Bridge project replaces the existing bridge with a precast box culvert, realigns the roadway to provide a safer travel path by decreasing the turning radius and lowering the elevation, improves drainage at the intersection with Wabash Avenue, provides new sidewalks, corrects curbing deficiencies, and coordinates with various utilities to improve their crossing of the drainage outfall,” Croft said in an email to The Resident. “The design phase is already underway and Public Works is currently coordinating utility relocations.”

According to Gerri Boyce, media relations for the Jacksonville Energy Authority, water and sewer pipes, as well as overhead utilities, will require relocation prior to and during the contractor’s work.

“The City’s consultant engineer is in the process of finishing up their design work with all utilities so that the project can bid and move forward,” said Boyce.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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