by: Lorena Incl\u00E1n Updated:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After two fatalities and another close call on the Buckman Bridge, the Florida Department of Transportation is reviewing the safety on the bridge. However, the safety review will take at least another six months.
One of the main things FDOT will be looking at is the height of the barriers, which meet the state standard but are still only 2 feet 8 inches tall, making it easy to flip over in the event of a crash.
The driver of a Mazda Tribute, 43-year-old Tammy Jennings, had a close call Thursday night, when troopers say she tried to change lanes and crashed into a barrier. The crash left her Mazda perched on top of it.
The Florida Highway Patrol says Jennings tried to move over for a Road Ranger truck helping a stranded driver. She saw another vehicle on her right, over-corrected and hit a Ford Escape.
Jennings was not injured in the crash. However, the driver of the Ford, 21-year-old Anna Johnson, had a minor injury.
Last month a Tampa Bay man crashed on the bridge, flipped over the barrier and died. Four years ago, a woman died when an impaired driver struck her vehicle, sending it over the guardrail and into the St. Johns River.
About 110,000 people use the bridge every day. Local drivers like Margaret Barna are fed up with the accidents.
“They should have been higher when they built the bridge,” said Barna.
Barna refers to the bridge’s barriers. They are at the center of a study being conducted by engineers with FDOT.
“Looking at how the traffic is managed on the bridge, looking at the speed limit itself, looking at the design of the bridge as we move into the future,” said Ron Tittle, FDOT spokesperson.
The latest crash will play a role in the study, but it is still unclear whether the height of the barriers will change.
“We are not throwing out any ideas, and our folks are receiving input from [the] public,” said Tittle.
According to Tittle, the immediate fix is to urge drivers to respect the posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour. FDOT is teaming up with the Florida Highway Patrol to coordinate messages on safe driving.
“We need to have folks being observant of the traffic laws,” said Tittle.
As for the study, it could be months before it is finished. FDOT told Action News it is still waiting on FHP to turn in the final investigation from last month's fatality on the Buckman Bridge.