The St. Marys Bridge crosses the St. Marys River at the Florida/Georgia state line. | Dan Scanlan, WJCT News 89.9

US 17 bridge to close Thursday at Florida-Georgia line

Published on April 3, 2024 at 12:01 pm

Drivers who like to take the scenic route on U.S. 17 across the Florida-Georgia state line will have to seek another way for most of Thursday, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

That’s because crews will be testing a system that pivots a historic blue bridge that straddles the state line at the St. Marys River, a system originally designed to allow taller boats to cruise through.

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The state inspection runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, forcing drivers to use Interstate 95 as the detour. Drivers who need to access U.S. 17 in Georgia, and communities like St. Marys and Kingsland, can use the St. Mary’s Road/Scrubby Bluff Road exit. Those needing to get to the Yulee area in Florida need to exit I-95 at the U.S. 17 exit just south of the state line.

Detour signs have been posted alerting drivers to the detours.

The St. Marys Bridge was built in 1927. It is a movable swing bridge, meaning the center span rotates on a swivel to open for vessels.

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What makes the bridge unusual is that the swinging operation is not electrically powered, as with most bridges. Instead, it has to be done manually by a crew of eight people who unlock and crank the center span open and closed, the FDOT said. Those crews will perform a routine inspection of the structure, opening the channel for vessels and assessing the structure for future maintenance items. 

The blue bridge was shut down for more than a year in 2013 for renovation and repainting. Rainy weather caused delays in reopening it.

author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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