Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ceremony Dubs Bennett Bridge; the Span Is Part of the Wonderwood Connector and Is Already Popular

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ceremony Dubs Bennett Bridge; the Span Is Part of the Wonderwood Connector and Is Already Popular

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein, The Times-Union

The first traffic count on Jacksonville's new Wonderwood Connector bridge showed about 14,000 vehicles a day are using the span, but officials expect that number will at least double in coming years when the entire project is finally finished.

The four-lane bridge, which opened July 24, was dedicated Friday as the Charles E. Bennett Memorial Bridge. Bennett represented Jacksonville in Congress for 44 years and was a key player in creation of the Timucuan Preserve and Mayport Naval Station -- both visible from the Wonderwood bridge. The Florida Legislature approved naming the bridge after Bennett, who died last year.

"I'm very proud this bridge is here because it's so much a part of him," his wife, Jean Bennett, said during the dedication ceremony.

Speakers recalled the long journey that began in 1987 when the City Council and Chamber of Commerce called on the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to build the Wonderwood Connector. The 9-mile road will run from Florida 9A in Arlington to Mayport Road in the Beaches area. The bridge gives drivers another way over the Intracoastal Waterway.

"It's a marvel, it's a godsend, and it's a shorter way to my home," Navy Capt. Charles King, the Mayport base's commanding officer, said in remarks that drew laughter from the crowd. …

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