March 23, 2023
Fixer-upper: The Mathews Bridge in Jacksonville is repaired

Photo: RS&H

Repairs to the Mathews Bridge were completed ahead of schedule.

Northeast Florida Roundup

Fixer-upper: The Mathews Bridge in Jacksonville is repaired

Ron Word | 2/26/2015

A Navy cargo ship being moved by tugs tore into the supports of the John E. Mathews Bridge on Sept. 26, 2013, leaving a section of the 1953-era main span twisted and torn. The accident disrupted a vital transportation link between downtown Jacksonville and Arlington and the Beaches used by 56,000 motorists a day.

Quick work by the Florida Department of Transportation, engineering expertise and contractors kept the bridge from plunging 153 feet into the St. Johns River.

FDOT selected HNTB, engineering designer RS&H and Superior Construction to handle the repairs and offered a $50,000-a-day earlycompletion incentive. The bridge opened ahead of schedule, 34 days after the accident and 28 days after repairs started, with more than 200 people working around the clock in 12-hour shifts.

The speedy repair project received several state, regional and national awards, including honors from the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials and the American Public Works Association’s Project of the Year Award in the Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repairs category.

A U.S. Coast Guard report issued in May determined the accident was caused by inaccurate information that led tow operators to believe the bridge was high enough to allow the cargo ship to pass under it. The bridge’s clearance was three feet lower than the published height, and the ship was five feet taller, leading to a mistake of eight feet, the report stated.

Now, the Florida Department of Transportation is focused on trying to recover the $4.1-million cost of the project from the Navy Military Sealift Command, its subcontractors or the tow operators.

Ted Avellone, the FDOT’s assistant general counsel, says negotiations are continuing among the parties on paying for the repairs, but so far the state has been unable to recoup its money.

The state has tried to avoid turning to the courts because a lawsuit would take much longer to resolve, Avellone says. “We are making progress and hope to have some resolution in the near future,” he says.

Business Briefs

JACKSONVILLE — Public defender Matt Shirk says he has no intention of resigning after a grand jury called on him to step down or be replaced by the governor. A grand jury investigated Shirk’s hiring and fring practices, the possible deletion of public records and claims that he sent sexually suggestive text messages to his employees. Gov. Rick Scott says it’s up to the voters to decide whether Shirk should remain in offce. His term expires in 2016. > Jeb Bush has stepped down from the board of directors of Jacksonville-based Rayonier. Bush, who is exploring a run for the Republican nomination for president, has also stepped down from the board of directors of Tenet Healthcare. > Vistakon, which makes Acuvue contact lenses, has been given approval from the city to build tanks that will hold chemicals it uses to make contact lenses. Developers Wayne Mc- Call and David Kirkland plan to build a 110-unit, $23-million “veteranfriendly” senior center called Anthem Lakes just south of the entry to Mayport Naval Station. Birmingham, Ala.- based, Graham & Co. Has purchased the Interstate South Commerce Center from GCP-Interstate South for $21 million. The six-building offce park occupies 25 acres and is assessed at $17.55 million. Motorcycle designer Fabrizio “Sugar” favre is moving his custom motorcycle business from Italy to Jacksonville. Favre is known for his custom-built cycles. > The Diocese of St. Augustine has sold All Saints Nursing Home to Cross Senior Care for $11 million. Cross Senior Care operates nine facilities in Florida and Georgia.

GAINESVILLE — Construction has started on a $10.2-million expansion and renovation of Oak Hammock at the University of Florida’s retirement community Health Pavilion.

MAYPORT — BAE System Southeast Shipyards has received a $14.6-million contract to make structural repairs and upgrades to the USS Roosevelt. The Roosevelt has been based at Mayport Naval Station since it was commissioned in 2000.

NASSAU COUNTY — An 890-acre parcel in Nassau County will remain undeveloped as part of a conservation easement received by the North Florida Land Trust. The property, owned by Jim McCloskey and Lynn Owens McCloskey, is located in the unincorporated Evergreen Section of the county. The land will still be owned and maintained by the McCloskeys.

OCALA — FedEx Ground is building a distribution hub on a 150-acre site. The hub is expected to open with 350 employees. The facility, in the Ocala/ Marion County Commerce Park, is expected to be complete by August 2016. > A $500,000 aircraft fuel farm is being constructed at Ocala International Airport.


Maple Street Biscuit Co.

Maple Street Biscuit Co. Is the brainchild of Scott Moore and Gus Evans, both victims of corporate downsizing. They opened their first restaurant in November 2012 in Jacksonville’s trendy San Marco area. There are now four restaurants with more on the horizon, including one planned for Chattanooga, Tenn., Moore says.

Moore got the idea from a biscuit restaurant in Portland, Ore., and decided to open a Southern version with flaky biscuits, wood-smoked bacon, goat cheese, maple syrup and gravy.


> Mark McHugh is joining Rayonier as COO and senior vice president. McHugh formerly worked for Raymond James as managing director for the real estate banking group. He has also served as an adviser to Rayonier.

> Larry Bullock has been named CFO for Alachuabased AGTC, a clinical stage biological company developing virus-based gene therapies for the treatment of rare eye diseases. Most recently, Bullock was CFO and corporate secretary of BioMimetic Therapeutics.

> Brian T. Cook has been appointed CEO at North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville. Cook was most recently CEO of Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee.

> Kelly Madden has been named to lead the commercial banking division of Wells Fargo for Florida. A 26-year veteran of the banking company, Madden previously served as executive vice president for Wells Fargo commercial banking in north Florida.

> Randall Onstead is departing as president and CEO of Bi-Lo Holdings, the Jacksonville-based parent of the Bi-Lo and Winn- Dixie grocery chains. The company is searching for a successor and declined to comment on the reasons for the change.

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