Jacksonville, FL - The Jags have had a home game since the Mathews Bridge was closed, but Jacksonville Police say they can make your game day experience smoother, so they’re rolling out a new plan.
“We’re committed to adding resources, being a little bit more aggressive, and we’re trying to accommodate these fans,” says JSO Assistant Chief of Special Events Leonard Propper.
Beginning at 8 AM Sunday, the Hart Bridge eastbound will be closed. By 9:15-9:30, JSO says they will open those lanes up for “counter flow” traffic, meaning traffic will be traveling the wrong direction. From that point until 2 PM, which is shortly after Jags kickoff, all four lanes of the Hart Bridge will travel in to the sports complex.
JSO has posted several message boards around the area and are planning to have 20 more officers on hand compared to a normal game day to make the routes work.
If you’re traveling to parking on the east side of the stadium, JSO says you should use the Hart Bridge westbound, which is the normal direction of travel. If you park in lots A-F or anywhere on the west side of the stadium, JSO says you should use eastbound Hart, which will have reverse traffic.
To get on to the “wrong way” Hart traffic, there are two recommended points off Atlantic Blvd. If you’re traveling westbound on Atlantic stay in the center lane as you pass the normal entrance ramp. The right lane will be closed and the center lane will become a turning lane on to the exit ramp, which is now an entrance ramp. If you’re traveling Atlantic eastbound, JSO recommends turning right on Art Museum and then left on to the exit ramp.
Once you’re on the Hart Bridge, there will be multiple signs directing you where to go. You can also see photos of some of the changes in the packet attached to the left. JSO says it’s best to ignore your GPS entirely if driving to the game and instead heed the road signs. Additionally, you should display your parking pass, in order to let JSO help you find the best and quickest route.
Despite these changes, Propper says you should still pack your patience.
“People who normally commute to the Jaguars game, add 45 minutes to that,” he says.
Despite the still-expected delays, making the drive easier for sports fans will have some side consequences.
“You can access everything downtown, the businesses downtown, the restaurants, everything is still equally as accessible with this plan- it’s just leaving downtown there’s minor delay,” Propper says.
JTA shuttles from Kings Avenue Orange Park, JTB and the Beaches will be able to cross the Hart in to downtown normally, but in order to get out of downtown until 2 PM they will be rerouted to the Main Street Bridge. Propper says that will likely mean delays, although pickup and drop-off points will not be affected.
Additionally, those who attend church services or other business in downtown on Sunday morning will be able to head in without issue, but face detour routes heading home. If you’re traveling to Fort Ccaroline/East Arlington or the northern Beaches, JSO recommends you take the Main Street Bridge to I95 northbound to Zoo Parkway, and from there to the Dames Point Bridge. If you’re traveling to other parts of the Southside or the Beaches you can take either the Acosta, Main Street Bridge or Fuller Warren.
Again, the detours are in effect through 2 PM, at which point the Hart will reopen to normal traffic. JSO will still be implementing normal road shifts for post-game traffic, however including augmenting travel lanes on Bay Street.
Some of you may have seen a road sign up already which said the Hart Bridge would be closed between 8 AM and 2 PM Sunday. Propper says that sign was posted Wednesday night to allow the church crowd to see the closure and while the sign was only posted on the eastbound approach, he acknowledges it should have specifically said eastbound closure. If you saw that sign, please note the changes listed here and not what was posted there.
Propper estimates the cost of staffing the extra officers to assist with these traffic changes will cost roughly $4500 above a normal game day.
While he says repairs along the Mathews Bridge are still moving ahead as scheduled, which would mean reopening at least partial traffic by Florida/Georgia, Propper says this plan for Sunday is likely very close to what they would implement that weekend if the Mathews remains shut.