JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Drivers all across the city got a surprise when they woke up Tuesday morning.
On September 26, a Navy cargo ship called the USNS First Lt. Harry L. Martin hit the center span of the Mathews Bridge.
Damage was estimated at $3 million and was so significant the bridge closed for more than a month.
The contractor, Superior Construction, worked around the clock on repairs.
The Florida Department of Transportation announced the Mathews would reopen after evening rush hour on Tuesday, October 29.
But unknowingly to almost everyone, traffic started moving across westbound lanes of the bridge around 5:30 a.m.
It unfolded live during Good Morning Jacksonville, which was first to inform people about the reopening.
A construction worker on scene confirmed the inspector had given the final all clear for the bridge to reopen earlier than expected.
Eastbound traffic resumed closer to 6:00 a.m.
Multiple squad cars from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office were seen escorting the first cars to go over the Mathews.
State Representative Lake Ray of Jacksonville, who's also a civil engineer with maritime experience, said the bridge repairs team tried to "manage expectations" with the reopening.
He said the bridge, despite being 60-years-old, is safe and able to carry thousands of cars a day.
It will be open for people trying to get to the Florida Georgia game this weekend.
Police said the Hart Bridge will no longer convert to four lanes of westbound traffic for the game.
That was only a backup plan if the Mathews was not going to be open in time.
Ray said work that was being done on the bridge before the ship crash will continue.
He said the Mathews will still need to close from time to time like it did before.
First Coast News