Jacksonville mayor wants to remove Hart Bridge ramps

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is asking for $50 million from the state to help change the design and look of downtown Jacksonville.

Curry wants to knock down the ramps of the Hart Bridge that lead to downtown.

Curry said the overpass was built in 1967 and it needs to be removed because of safety and traffic issues. Along with that, Curry said removing the overpass could help as plans move forward to develop the area.

For those working at the Intuition Ale House, the possibility of removing the Hart Bridge overpass is a big deal.

"I mean, if you look right now there's a lot of traffic on the ramp itself. That's traffic that's completely bypassing Bay Street," Tap Room Manager Riley Leuthold said.

Wednesday, Curry presented a plan to remove the overpass and instead have traffic take ramps down from the bridge and then drive on the street below.

"It would give us more exposure. It would give us a better view of the river as well," Leuthold said.

"The ramps were originally designed to bypass the industrialized waterfront consisting primarily of the Jacksonville Shipyards," Curry said.

Curry said the overpass causes traffic issues and isn't safe. In January, a driver was critically injured when an SUV crashed from the Hart Bridge overpass. Now, Curry is asking Duval County's members of the state legislature to ask the state for $50 million to fix the issues. It's a big change that Curry said will also help as the city works to bring more business to the area.

"As you begin to develop all of this area, as is our plan, that creates additional traffic issues. The problem would be exacerbated if we're not to do this," Curry said.

One of those listening to the mayor was state Sen. Audrey Gibson. She said she supports helping Jacksonville, but needs to learn more before asking the state for tens of millions of dollars.

"I need much more details on what the proposal actually looks like, how it impacts residents or businesses based on whatever this new configuration is going to be," Gibson said.

“Spur a little bit more development, get some more investment in the area and have all the businesses in this neighborhood flourish,” Leuthold said.

The overpass is a state road. Action News Jax reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation for more information on what a project like this could cost and would involve. They're working on getting us that information.