JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Standing on the base of the Mathews Bridge Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad said the damage to the bridge following last week's ship collision is serious, but fixable.
"We could have been in a much worse situation," he said.
He said the ship severed a tension cord, a major source of support. And as a result, the span is impassable.
[Special coverage: Mathews Bridge shutdown
"Currently the main span over the navigational channel cannot carry any loads. You cannot put any traffic on it, to the extent, it cannot even handle construction equipment," he said.
So here's how he said the FDOT plans to fix it. It's hired a contractor to make the repairs. And after two weeks, if an inspection shows the bridge is safe, two lanes will reopen.
Prasad said, "We would allow westbound traffic to use the bridge from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. And then we will reverse the traffic eastbound from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The bridge will be shut down from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. at night."
FDOT has given the contractor 40 days to complete the fix, offering an incentive of $50,000 a day if it finishes early. The goal is to have the bridge fully functional in time for the Florida-Georgia game on Nov. 2.
"The contractor's clock starts tomorrow," said Prasad.
FDOT says taxpayers won't foot the bill.
"We're gonna go after the vessel and their insurance provider. This is routine," he said.