Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bridge Still Lures Big Rigs about 60 Trucks Defy Ban Daily

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bridge Still Lures Big Rigs about 60 Trucks Defy Ban Daily

Article excerpt

The old habit of crossing Jacksonville's Fuller Warren Bridge is

proving to be tough to break for truckers.

Even though a ban prohibiting heavy trucks from the bridge has

been in effect nearly two weeks, about 60 big rigs still use the

span every day, officials said yesterday.

About half of them get caught and ticketed every day; about 350

citations have been issued since the ban began April 4,

officials said.

The truckers' continued use of the bridge surprises the Florida

Department of Transportation and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Some truckers have told officers they know of the ban but cross

the bridge anyway.

"I asked one driver if he knew of the ban and he said,

`Yeah,' " DOT Capt. Dave Fachko said yesterday. "I asked him,

`Why'd you cross the bridge?' He said, `I don't know, but I

figured you guys are pretty serious about this.'

"I had to laugh," Fachko said. "I told him, `Yeah, we're pretty

serious about this.' "

Nevertheless, 60 heavy trucks a day is better than the roughly

4,000 a day that had been crossing the Interstate 95 span before

the ban, officials said.

The DOT is keeping heavy trucks off the 43-year-old Fuller

Warren to avoid $500,000 in repair costs before the aging bridge

is replaced in the fall of 2001. The only exceptions to the ban

are buses, emergency trucks and construction equipment used for

building the new Fuller Warren Bridge.

Fachko said DOT enforcement officers have been stationed at the

bridge every day since the ban. The tickets, for failure to obey

an official traffic control device, cost $73 each.

"Actually, though, we're accomplishing what the DOT set out to

do, which is keep so many heavy vehicles off the bridge," Fachko

said.

The bridge is still safe for motorists, but the constant

pounding from heavy vehicles had been wearing away the span's

road surface, DOT officials said. …

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