The safety of the Buckman Bridge has been called into question following Wednesday’s fatal accident that sent a Ford pick-up truck over the guard rail and into the St. Johns River.
State Representative and Jacksonville engineer Lake Ray says based on the construction drawings he’s seen, the Buckman appears to meet all of the federal bridge regulations, including the height of its guard-rails.
But even if the rails were made higher, Ray says, that wouldn’t necessarily prevent a car from going into the water, not when things like speed, a vehicle’s center-of-gravity and pavement conditions are factored in.
“There’s aerodynamics that under certain circumstances actually give lift to vehicles and so if you get the right set of circumstances, it could lift vehicles up to a point where they would be above a correctly centered point of gravity on a guard rail,” he said.
Then there’s human error, Ray says. People are easily distracted on bridges, they often follow too closely and some get so nervous driving across them that they over-react to sudden changes in traffic conditions.
However, he says, that doesn’t mean a safety review of the Buckman Bridge isn’t warranted.
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