In 2013, a naval ship struck a critical steel member in the center span of the Mathews Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida. The collision caused significant damage and an immediate bridge closure.
The Mathews Bridge is a 7,375-foot-long steel cantilever thru-truss with a roadway deck that rises 150 feet above the St. Johns River. Located on the Arlington Expressway which is a main route for the city with an average daily traffic rate of 50,000, reopening the bridge promptly while ensuring the safety of the structure was essential to the community and local economy.
To minimize loads on the bridge, FDOT decided not to use mechanical access equipment for the inspection. Within hours of the bridge strike, Burgess & Niple engineers began inspecting the bridge using industrial rope access techniques, which allowed full access to all critical areas of the structure.
The team was on-site for the duration of the project, providing a range of engineering services as part of a large team of consultants, state agency personnel and contractors working together to safely and efficiently repair the structure. The bridge was reopened to traffic just 34 days after the impact.
This presentation will detail the project from start to finish, including the timeline, action plan and repair solutions, as well as the challenges faced by the project team, which included:
- Determining how to restore bridge geometry and load paths
- Replacing and strengthening tension cord and gusset plate members
- Conducting operations on a major structure without the use of mechanical access equipment or cranes
- Installation of 100+ strain gages, miles of wiring and completing load tests