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Bridge repairs making headway
KINGSLAND -- Repairs that have closed the U.S. 17 bridge spanning the St. Marys River at the Georgia-Florida line since early May are on schedule.

"Typically on these bridges there's a little more work than anticipated," said Mike Goldman, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation.

He said the extra work is usually the result of the lag in time between when a bridge is inspected and the work begins, which can be months. Goldman said no major surprises have been discovered with repairs needed on the structure, which is nicknamed the Blue Bridge by residents.

He said work on the year-long project is about 60 percent complete. Repairs were originally scheduled to begin in early April, but Florida DOT officials who are responsible for the work were asked to delay closing the bridge to allow the trucking industry to prepare for the detour, Goldman said.

The majority of the mechanical work on the movable bridge is complete, he said. Repairs or replacement of the span's structural steel is also nearly finished. The work includes removing corrosion from the steel bridge and replacing and reinforcing bolts that hold the structure together.

The project will cost an estimated $3.5 million, Goldman said.

The 8,600 vehicles a day that typically cross the bridge, which was built in 1927, have been taking a detour since work began.

Southbound traffic on U.S. 17 has been rerouted onto Interstate 95 at Exit 3 at Kingsland. The detour takes motorists to the first exit near Yulee, Fla., where they can get onto southbound U.S. 17 again. Signs in Florida reroute northbound traffic onto Interstate 95 to Exit 3 in Georgia and onto U.S. 17.

Goldman said the bridge is scheduled to reopen in early spring.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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