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Increased police presence to combat bridge closure congestion

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Updated: 9/27/2013 11:28 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Traffic officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office were out in full force, monitoring congestion caused by the Mathews Bridge closure.

The indefinite closure is affecting drivers across Jacksonville.

Initially, some detours looked like parking lots. Friday night, police presence doubled in some spots to combat congestion.

A traffic officer at Atlantic Boulevard and University Boulevard told Action News the intersection was the busiest across the River City.

"We're making every resource available that we possibly can," said JSO spokesman Shannon Hartley. "Our concern is keeping traffic flowing."

Additional resources mean additional hours for officers -- paid for by Jacksonville taxpayers.

"We've increased staffing for the Mathews Bridge closure. We have additional people working the lights in the morning and in the evening," said Assistant Chief Leonard Propper.

Action News reporter Ryan Smith asked exactly how many overtime hours have been clocked so far by police, but a spokesman said that hasn't been determined.

"It's certainly been a lot but it's been the adjustment of hours," said Hartley.

Traffic officers in the thick of Friday's traffic tell Action News that their schedules were adjusted in an effort to hold down overtime and, ultimately, the cost to taxpayers.

Officers at some of the heavily-congested intersections are manually controlling the traffic signals to allow for a longer green light.
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