Ortega River drawbridge to undergo improvements

Ortega River drawbridge to undergo improvements
The historic 1927 bascule bridge over the Ortega River will undergo rehabilitation this spring.

The Ortega River Bridge at State Road 211 (Grand Avenue/San Juan Avenue) is undergoing rehabilitation, including cleaning, painting, concrete work and updates to its electrical system.

To complete the improvements, lane closures will be implemented Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. When necessary, a one-time, consecutive 10-day full bridge closure will be required to complete the electrical and bridge painting work, which is not accessible while maintaining vehicular traffic.

Electronic message boards will be in place to notify motorists when the detour will be implemented in advance. The channel will be open for marine traffic at all times, unless unforeseen circumstances occur.

The 90-year-old bridge has gone through several rehabilitations, including in 1978, 1996 and 2011-2012, when the repair project cost $4.8 million. Designed during the Florida Boom period in the 1920, the bridge was installed to provide better access to Jacksonville from the “suburbs” of Ortega and Venetia. In 2011, a traffic inventory report noted average daily traffic of 4,800 vehicles with a projection of more than 8,300 by 2033.

The bridge was also designed with aesthetics in mind, according to the website historicbridges.org. Its four bridge tender houses are two more than would generally be needed to operate a bascule bridge in the 1920s (today only one house needs to be staffed). The presence of four houses was likely more of an aesthetic decision rather than a necessity. The approach spans have unusual ornamental concrete railings featuring stylized Maltese crosses that are the distinctive design of T. B. Carrick, a local engineer of note.

Astron General Contracting Co. Inc., is scheduled to complete the $1.7 million rehabilitation improvements by late December 2018, weather and schedule permitting.

For more information regarding construction projects, visit www.nflroads.com or contact FDOT at (904) 831-FDOT.

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