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The Mathews Bridge is a cantilever bridge in Jacksonville, Florida, which spans the St. Johns River. Constructed in 1953, the bridge brings traffic along the Arlington Expressway between downtown Jacksonville and the Arlington neighborhood. It was named after John E. Mathews, a Florida state legislator and Chief Justice of the 1955 Florida Supreme Court who helped gather funding for the bridge's construction.[1] Originally silver in color, the bridge was painted maroon in 1984 in celebration of Jacksonville's United States Football League franchise, the Jacksonville Bulls.

Mathews Bridge
Mathews Bridge.jpg
Coordinates 30°19′37″N 81°37′05″W / 30.327°N 81.618°W / 30.327; -81.618Coordinates: 30°19′37″N 81°37′05″W / 30.327°N 81.618°W / 30.327; -81.618
US 90 Alt.
(four general purpose lanes)
Crosses St. Johns River
Locale Jacksonville, Florida
Official name John E. Mathews Bridge
Maintained by Florida Department of Transportation
ID number 720076
Design Steel cantilever bridge
Total length 2248.2 meters (7736 feet)
Width 17.7 meters (58 feet)
Longest span 246.9 meters (810 feet)
Clearance above 6.80 meters (22.3 feet)
Clearance below 46.3 meters (152 feet)
Opened April 15, 1953; 64 years ago (April 15, 1953)



Construction of the Mathews Bridge in 1952.

Discussion on building a bridge to Arlington and the beaches began in the early 20th century when cars became more popular. In 1938 Duval County Commission discontinued ferry service to help encourage support for a new bridge. At this time, only the Acosta Bridge and Main Street Bridge crossed the St. Johns River for vehicle use. Another reason for a new bridge was congestion on the two bridges. John E. Mathews, a state legislator and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, helped secure funding for a new bridge. The cost of constructing a bridge was $11 million to be backed by bonds and toll revenues. Tolls remained for the Mathews Bridge until 1989. The John E. Mathews Bridge opened on April 15, 1953.[2][3]

The bridge had a notoriously problematic grating in the center span. After the previous grating wore out, a new one was installed, causing drivers to complain that the replacement was slippery and difficult to cross. That grating was replaced with a new, "state of the art" grating, which also provoked controversy causing citizens to pressure the Jacksonville City Council to act again concerning the grating. This initially only resulted in reducing the speed limit and roughing up the grating. In 2007, the bridge underwent a $12.9 million deck replacement project to replace the open grating over the center span with a concrete riding surface, and has since been reopened for public use.[4]

In the early afternoon on September 26, 2013, the Military Sealift Command ship USNS 1st. Lt. Harry L. Martin allided with the center span of the Mathews Bridge. The damage caused to the bridge was sufficient that it was closed indefinitely until it could be inspected and repaired.[5] Following repairs, the Mathews Bridge reopened in the early morning of October 29, 2013.[6]

Part of the reason of the accident was because the charted height of the bridge was incorrect. The bridge owners (Florida Department of Transportation) notified the Coast Guard that the bridge was surveyed and the new height was 146 feet. This new measurement is 6 feet lower than the previously published height.[7][8]

No notification of the vessel's height has been published by the Navy, but local news articles report that FDOT has evidence that the vessel's height was also 5 1/2 feet taller than its plans indicated.[9]


In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-09-04. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  2. ^ "THE MATHEWS BRIDGE: HISTORIC OR AN EXPENSIVE RELIC?". Retrieved 17 January 2018. 
  3. ^ "History of the Jacksonville Urban Core Bridges". Retrieved 17 January 2018. 
  4. ^ Ball, David (December 21, 2016). "Is Mathews Bridge Safer?". Jax Daily Record. Retrieved 17 January 2018. 
  5. ^ "Traffic alert: Jacksonville's Mathews Bridge shut down after a ship hit it". The Florida Times-Union. Jacksonville, FL: September 26, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  6. ^ Rakow, Erika (October 29, 2013). "Mathews Bridge returns to service". WJXT. Jacksonville, FL. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  7. ^[permanent dead link]
  8. ^
  9. ^[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit