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Bridge closure affecting emergency response

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Updated: 10/06/2013 12:44 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ever since a collision with a ship closed the Mathews Bridge last week, everyone has had to add some extra time to their daily commutes.

Arlington resident John Monagle said, "At least 15 minutes."

Jacksonville's firefighters are no exception. JFRD told Action News at least one station is having to add three to five minutes to its response time.

Union president Randy Wyse said, "It's not a huge delay. But it's something that we have got to deal with."

Wyse said the fire station on Liberty Street Downtown has an aerial ladder truck that services part of Arlington, which is on the other side of the St. Johns River.

Its normal route would take it right across the Mathews. But since the bridge is closed, JFRD has had to tweak its emergency plans.

He said, "They're going to rely on their brothers on the other side of the river to make sure that that response occurs."

Knowing every second counts, Wyse said JFRD has plans in place. The Mathews Bridge has been closed sporadically several times over the past few years, and two other fire stations in the Arlington area can pick up the slack.

"It's nothing that the firefighters can't overcome," said Wyse.

Monagle said he's not too worried. He's just ready for the bridge to reopen.

"I use it fairly often, living here in Arlington," he said.

The Florida Department of Transportation has given the contractor 40 days to fix the bridge, with incentives if it finishes early.

The goal is to have it open before the Florida-Georgia game on Nov 2.
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