By Jackelyn Barnard
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Drivers who go over the Mathews Bridge often times complain about the grating in the center of the bridge.
Since the Department of Transportation replaced that grating in 1999, it seems there have been more complaints and more accidents.
Just this year, 246 wrecks have happened on the Mathews. Those who drive the bridge everyday call it dangerous.
"The grate at the top is kind of scary. It kind of sways. It doesn't feel like it connects well," says Guy Hewker, who crosses the bridge to and from work everyday.
Hewker says he is lucky. He hasn't been in an accident but he has been close to one, or make that several. "I've seen a number of accidents."
In a matter of two-and-a-half hours Thursday, there was heavy rain and two wrecks. One wreck sent a mother, Donna Campbell, over the bridge.
"It's past time. It was past time whatever time that accident occurred yesterday," says Councilman Lake Ray.
Ray has been asking for changes on the Mathews for years. Now, he says there is more proof the grating is a problem and something has to be done.
"I can't wait any longer. I mean how many more families may be affected."
The Department of Transportation has looked at the bridge and says it's safe.
"We did tests on it to show that it was safe as long as people observed the speed limit," says Mike Goldman, a spokesman for the DOT.
But DOT is considering one change to the Mathews. The solution comes with a $12 million price tag. It would basically fill the gaps in the grating to even out the surface.
DOT is meeting about the bridge later this month. Goldman says the changes won't happen overnight, because if the department is going to spend that kind of money it wants to make sure it is choosing the right solution.
Councilman Ray says he would like the City of Jacksonville to help DOT fund the changes.
First Coast News