Moving quickly to get Jacksonville's Mathews Bridge back into service after it was damaged by a U.S. Navy cargo ship on Sept. 26, the Florida Dept. of Transportation announced Oct. 1 that Superior Construction, Jacksonville, submitted the apparent low bid for emergency repairs, with a price of $1.07 million. If the contractor can complete the repairs in 30 days, it stands to earn up to $500,000 in early-completion bonuses. FDOT estimates the total cost of repairs at $3 million.

Photo courtesy FDOT
The cargo ship damaged a structural beam on the bridge's central span, nearly causing a collapse, say state officials.

The USNS 1st Lt. Harry Martin was passing underneath the Mathews Bridge on the afternoon of Sept. 26 when an elevated structure located on the ship's stern struck the main span. The impact damaged a main structural beam and shoved metal plates that support the deck an estimated two to three inches out of position, which eventually could have caused the structure to fall off the supports, agency officials stated.

FDOT spokesman Michael Goldman said the damage "created a weight imbalance that, [with] further traffic and vibrations, could've caused a collapse."

For bidding, FDOT estimated a 40-day schedule and offered an early-completion incentive of $50,000 per day, with a $500,000 maximum. Superior estimated 30 days for repairs, with work starting on Oct. 2.

FDOT hopes to re-open the bridge as soon as crews can stabilize the structure, which normally carries an estimated 56,500 vehicles per day.