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Local engineers evaluate bridge damage up close

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Updated: 10/06/2013 12:40 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- With warnings from the Coast Guard to take extra caution of hanging cables, Action News took a team of engineers out under the crippled Matthews Bridge on a boat to get a firsthand look at the damage.

As inspectors made their own assessment from the water and the sky, two local civil engineers tell Action News the damage is as dangerous as they feared.

"It's extreme damage, one of the main members have been completely severed," said local bridge inspector and engineer Randy Mock.

But what concerns experts the most is what they can't see; something that will take inspectors weeks to uncover.

"What are the other latent things that were affected," said Mock. "Other members' forces that were transmitted elsewhere into the bridge."

With a whole section of a major weight-bearing beam in need of replacement, engineers said repairs could take months. But one positive observation they made is that the structural damage hasn't worsened since the crash.

"It's been almost 24 hours since the incident happened and there's no progressive collapse," said UNF Civil Engineering professor, Adel El Safty.

Now engineers say inspectors need to evaluate the pieces of steel connected to the point of impact to check their integrity, and where the weight load of the bridge has shifted.
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