The Dames Point Bridge at sunset. | News4JaxThe Dames Point Bridge at sunset. | News4Jax
The Dames Point Bridge at sunset. | News4Jax

Dames Point Bridge protected against collision, mayor says

Published on March 26, 2024 at 12:38 pm

A bridge collapse like the one in Baltimore is unlikely in Jacksonville because of protective structures around the Dames Point Bridge, the mayor says.

Mayor Donna Deegan assured the community Tuesday morning that the Dame Point Bridge has large concrete structures — called “dolphins” — at the base of its piers to protect against ships hitting the bridge.

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Besides the dolphins, the bridge has specialty sensors, called Air Gap sensors, to provide real-time information on the distance between the water surface and the bottom of the bridge structure over the main channel, Deegan said in a written statement.

In Baltimore, a container ship lost power and drifted into a support of the the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday, collapsing the bridge and plunging a construction crew and vehicles into the water. Six workers were missing early Tuesday afternoon. Two others were rescued.

An illustration shows the “dophins” protecting the Dames Point Bridge. | City of Jacksonville.

The Dames Point Bridge is the only bridge that cargo ships pass under when calling at Jaxport, Deegan said, although smaller ships travel farther and pass under the Mathews Bridge, Hart Bridge, Main Street bridge, Fuller Warren Bridge and Buckman Bridge.

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In 2013, a Navy ship being towed by tugboats hit the Mathews Bridge, which closed for repairs for about a month.

A disaster reminiscent of the Baltimore collapse occurred on Tampa Bay in 1980, when a freighter slammed into supports of the old Sunshine Skyway bridge. A 1,200-foot span of the bridge collapsed and six cars, a truck and a Greyhound bus plunged into the water. Thirty-five people died.

author image Senior News Editor

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. 

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