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Commute to USA Women's Soccer event a disaster

Metro Jacksonville's Kelsi Hasden questions the closure of the Mathews Bridge during major sporting events.

Published February 12, 2013 in Opinion      9 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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The USA Women's soccer team played against Scotland Saturday night, breaking the attendance record at a US Women’s National Team game in the Southeast, merely months after breaking the attendance record for the Men’s National Team. With over 18,000 people in attendance, you would think the city would find a way to accommodate the traffic from the beaches to downtown, especially when Jags games bring in over 60,000 people per game.  This should be old hat for the city, but they apparently failed to anticipate the number of soccer fans attending the game.  The closure of the Matthews Bridge forced traffic to the Hart Bridge, which turned a 20 minute drive (even in Jaguar game day traffic) into a 45 minute drive. Upon arriving at the stadium, all traffic was forced to go one direction which then caused everyone to park in the first available lot they came across. The way the traffic was being directed caused everyone coming off the Hart Bridge to pass two open parking lots.  At the end of the game, which was phenomenal, all of those cars became bottle necked for more than 30 minutes because the traffic lights were not being manually controlled to route the cars.

This disaster raises the question, how does the city expect to acquire an MLS team or attract any kind of event when they can't handle the traffic that those events are sure to have? The Matthews Bridge is so vital that having it closed when there is a major event downtown causes chaos. Verlander, JSO, JTA, FDOT and whoever is responsible for road closures need to maintain better communication because traveling to and from the game Saturday night was an embarrassment for the city. Attending Jags games and events like World of Nations demonstrate that the city is capable of handling large numbers of people, but issues like Saturday night make people doubt the city's abilities to consistently handle high demand.

Editorial by Kelsi Hasden







9 Comments

Noone

February 12, 2013, 07:53:00 AM
We need an app for that. Parking revenue is a higher priority.

Bridges

February 12, 2013, 08:00:37 AM
The mathews bridge traffic routing is a disaster.  They list the closed and open times on coj.net.  Its a nice page, with specific dates and if the bridge is open or not.  They even update the dates so it shows the current week. 

Pretty cool, IF it was actually true all the time.  I check it everytime before i take the bridge, and its wrong half the time.  So i
I'll plan for the bridge as my route, then get caught in the traffic and rerouted to the Hart.  Other times it will say its closed but its open.  I just take the hart now for everything.  It may add 10-15 minutes, but at least i know its open.

Spence

February 12, 2013, 08:18:26 AM
https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-jan-dangerous-bridges-in-jacksonville&sa=U&ei=-0AaUdaOAc650QHKk4G4CQ&ved=0CAcQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNFAYlDzBpCYNFr_U_5lziRS0hqpHg

Start taking the Hart for everything for about 30 years or so, then take the Mathews replacement once the Eastside and the Kahn plant are up and re(re)vitalized, along with the (dream on it) Hogan, McCoys, Genealogical/Historical Society, Riverwalk, rails to Trails connections are realized.

Not poking fun, some family rode in from the Hart and tried leaving DT toward King St., absolutely unneccessary hijinks.

Does SMG need to direct our traffic police?

tufsu1

February 12, 2013, 08:38:32 AM
I think blaming this on the City isn't fair....the bridge is owned and maintained by FDOT....and they are the ones that work the schedule out with the contractor.

here's the general rule on mathews bridge closures....every weeknight and Friday evening through Sunday morning.

any changes to these have and will continue to affect the overall project schedule.

If 18,000 is enough to open the bridge, what about 15,000 concert goers....because the arena gets that almost monthly....or how about 10,000 for a big baseball game?

Spence

February 12, 2013, 09:49:17 AM
I think blaming this on the City isn't fair....the bridge is owned and maintained by FDOT....and they are the ones that work the schedule out with the contractor.

here's the general rule on mathews bridge closures....every weeknight and Friday evening through Sunday morning.

any changes to these have and will continue to affect the overall project schedule.

If 18,000 is enough to open the bridge, what about 15,000 concert goers....because the arena gets that almost monthly....or how about 10,000 for a big baseball game?


Any knowledge to leak regarding the [distant] pending total replacement of the Mathews?

Any possibility its Arlington side of the St.Johns approaches could rise early (east of Underhill Drive and Seaboard Parkway as an overland bridge) and sail over University, then (using the center height of the span as the imagined pivot point) kick slightly toward an 8o'clock position in order to utilize the the currently dubbed Commodore Point overland bridge once over the Eastside?

In your mind, could anything as described above be at all feasible if the current overland bridge north of the Sports complex were ever dismantled in order to 1)better gain a return of the previously dispensed investments in the form of Town Center similar infrastrusture in the A.Phillip Randolph area, 2)better reconnect the fledgling neighborhood with the Hogan greenway and Arena / Sports plex, 3)use the narrow hart for rail, bike, and ped?

Such a process could allow a near full replacement of the decaying[Mathews] structure to occur with seemingly minute interruptions and only short term temporary total disruptions to ground transportation.

Minimal and only provisional riparian adjacent usage would be required upon casually shallow first glance, appearing to not require any further property acquisition...
speaking of not blaming the city_

Serious question.
Alternative suggestions and friendly debate hoped for.

tufsu1

February 12, 2013, 11:20:04 AM
I think blaming this on the City isn't fair....the bridge is owned and maintained by FDOT....and they are the ones that work the schedule out with the contractor.

here's the general rule on mathews bridge closures....every weeknight and Friday evening through Sunday morning.

any changes to these have and will continue to affect the overall project schedule.

If 18,000 is enough to open the bridge, what about 15,000 concert goers....because the arena gets that almost monthly....or how about 10,000 for a big baseball game?


Any knowledge to leak regarding the [distant] pending total replacement of the Mathews?


nope...the repainting project underway also includes redoing all the bolts and joints....so I think the plan is for the existing bridge to go another 20 years.

spuwho

February 12, 2013, 09:08:05 PM
FDOT/JTA took down the Mathews Replacement website. But here is the highlights.

Exclusive images broadcast by First Coast News Tuesday are drawing a strong reaction from Arlington residents and business owners. The pictures are artists' renderings showing what a new Mathews Bridge might look like. Jacksonville engineering firm Reynolds, Smith and Hills has been conducting a feasibility study for replacing the Mathews. The option they're likely to recommend to the state involves an ambitious, $700 million plan: building a new, four-lane bridge just to the north of the current structure, tearing down the old bridge, and putting up another one in its place, for a total of eight lanes. Additionally, the Arlington Expressway would be widened to six lanes. But plans to ramp up the corridor and the bridge are unsettling to some. "I don't see how our property couldn't be taken," said Frank McCafferty, president of Jones College, when he saw the renderings the First Coast News I-Team obtained. This, despite assurances given to Jones that none of the campus' land would be affected by the bridge plans. Jones sits in the shadow of the Mathews along the Arlington Expressway. "Even if we don't have to move our campus, there will be a significant impact from traffic coming 30 to 40 feet closer to our classrooms," he said. Resa Dupree, a resident of the Jones College residential section, agrees. "I've been looking out at it and trying to figure out where it all will go," she said. RS&H showed First Coast News several different photographs and renderings of options they're considering for the Mathews project, and stress any new bridge construction is years away. In the meantime, work to replace the much maligned grating atop the Mathews Bridge is slated to begin in February, with traffic reduced to two lanes for the project's 90-day duration. Later this summer a public hearing will be held so commuters can learn more about the project. There's also a website they can peruse, www.mathewsbridge.com. And while some are reacting with trepidation to the changes a new bridge might bring, other Arlington residents love the idea of a more attractive and safer route across the St. Johns River. "It should give the neighborhood a lift," said longtime Arlington resident Larry Phillips, "and it'll definitely reduce tension and congestion."

control

March 12, 2013, 01:43:27 PM
I think someone needs a refresher in the meaning of the word disaster.  A normally 20 minute drive taking 45 minutes, a half hour to leave a sporting event parking lot... well, those might qualify as inconveniences.  I'm all for proper execution of parking and traffic plans, however, the bridge repair is by all accounts necessary.  This article doesn't seem to warrant the server space it is using.

coredumped

March 12, 2013, 01:49:36 PM
I'm not defending them closing the bridge during large activities downtown, but they update their site regularly (daily?):
http://www.coj.net/departments/sheriffs-office/patrol-division/mathews-bridge-closure.aspx
First his when you search for "coj mathews bridge" in google.

When I see it's closed, I allow for extra time to get downtown.
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