Mathews Bridge Emergency Repairs

On September 26, 2013, a U.S. Naval ship being towed to the North Florida Shipyard struck the superstructure of Mathews Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida. The impact severed the bridge’s north lower truss chord on impact, compromising the geometry and stability of the steel bridge. To restore this local landmark and return it to full operation of carrying about 56,000 vehicles per day, a quick, efficient, and well-planned repair effort was crucial.

Since RS&H had extensive experience with Mathews Bridge and an on-call contract, the Florida Department of Transportation relied on RS&H to manage the repair effort. In 2006, the FDOT decided to replace Mathews Bridge’s grating with a solid deck system. During the project, RS&H created a full 3D model of the bridge to identify the best durable surface that would also protect the steel. The deck was replaced with a rigid, lightweight Exodermic deck in 2007.

With the model in hand and knowledge of the bridge, RS&H prepared a bid package for potential contractors within 76 hours after impact. The package included a written agreement, scope of work, sequence of construction, and plans for temporary and permanent repairs.

The design team remained closely integrated during construction, participated in progress meetings, and visited the bridge site often. The team committed itself to rigorous 12-hour shop drawing reviews to help expedite construction, a process that normally takes up to 30 days. The contractor kept construction moving smoothly by conducting field meetings twice a day and was accessible 24 hours a day. The coordination and dedication of the entire team resulted in the bridge opening to traffic 12 days ahead of schedule and only 33 days after impact.

RS&H, in association with Five Studios, has produced, “In the Blink of an Eye,” a documentary detailing the story of the heroic repairs.

Project Details

Description Transportation
Disaster Relief
Location Jacksonville, FL
Client/Owner Florida Department of Transportation, District Two
Awards President’s Transportation Award, American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO),  2014

People’s Choice Award, American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO),  2014

Outstanding Project Award for Minor Project, Florida Institute of Consulting Engineers (FICE)/Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT),  2014


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