Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Girder off Less Than 1 Inch Leads to Rush-Hour Crawl Atlantic-Mayport Ramp Stalls Traffic

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Girder off Less Than 1 Inch Leads to Rush-Hour Crawl Atlantic-Mayport Ramp Stalls Traffic

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein, Times-Union staff writer

The construction of an elevated ramp at Atlantic Boulevard and Mayport Road threw a wrench into rush-hour traffic yesterday when a steel girder wouldn't fit and made installation take hours longer than expected.

Some drivers reported sitting in barely moving traffic for 45 minutes to an hour because of detours and lane closures that were supposed to end between 5 and 6 a.m. Instead, the last barricades weren't removed until after 9 a.m. -- leaving commuters clogged.

"There were a lot of people severely inconvenienced, and we feel terrible about it," said Larry Wehner, construction manager for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.

The $10 million project includes building an elevated ramp that will allow eastbound drivers on Atlantic Boulevard to connect with Mayport Road without having to wait for a traffic light before going through an underpass.

In a preliminary review, the JTA found no fault with the manufacturer of the steel beam or with the contractor, Superior Construction, in connection with the situation. Wehner said Superior was on track to finish the nighttime work before the morning rush hour, but the third and last girder it installed failed to fit properly.

By the time it became apparent the installation wouldn't be completed by the morning rush hour, the work was so far along that "it would have taken more time to disassemble it" than to finish what had been started, Wehner said. The JTA didn't reopen eastbound Atlantic Boulevard's exit ramp until about 7:45 a.m. and eastbound Atlantic Boulevard had just one lane of traffic at the overpass spanning Mayport Road until after 9 a.m.

"It was a lot of traffic and it was a big tie-up," Atlantic Beach Deputy Chief John Campbell said. "From people we talked to, it was taking 45 minutes to an hour longer than normal."

The question facing commuters today is whether to take a chance on using Atlantic Boulevard.

"I'm not going that way again in the morning, that's for sure," said Les Hussie, who said it took him almost an hour longer than usual to get his son to a summer camp program at the Mayport Naval Station. …

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