Mathews Bridge Rammers

Anyone who drives has probably hit something at one point or another: a curb, a sign, a tree, another car. It’s not intentional. That’s why it’s called an accident. But when a cargo ship slammed into the Mathews Bridge, the word “accident” didn’t quite do the incident justice. On the afternoon of Sept. 26, USNS Harry L. Martin, a cargo ship owned by the Navy but operated by civilians, was being transported to North Florida Shipyards via tugboats. By looking solely at the numbers – a 148-foot-tall boat and a reported 152 feet between the height of the bridge span and the St. Johns River – it wouldn’t have happened. However, the ship was empty and the river tide was higher than usual, factors that should have been taken into consideration by the individuals operating the tugs. Even though the city probably won’t have to pay for any of the repairs or related costs, there’s no compensating the 56,000 drivers a day who were forced to drive miles out of their way and sit in traffic for weeks while the bridge was closed.