The seven bridges that cross the St. Johns River in Jacksonville are perhaps the city’s most iconic feature.
The bridges were a product of the city’s growth and the quick rise in vehicle traffic in the 20th century. They provide access to and from various parts of Jax, and are an absolute necessity given the city’s spread-out nature and the presence of the St. Johns River.
We absolutely love our city’s bridges – yes, even the Buckman – so a while back we wrote profiles of each of them. Now, we’ve compiled those profiles into one comprehensive article detailing all seven of the city’s bridges. Bridge lovers, today’s your day!
Once upon a time, there weren’t any bridges in Jacksonville that crossed over the St. Johns River. In 1921, the opening of the original Acosta Bridge provided a solution to this issue.
The bridge, originally known as the St. Johns River Bridge, came about as the result of councilman St. Elmo W. Acosta’s efforts to secure its funding. It was replaced in 1994 by an updated version.
The original bridge was 1,645 feet long – same as the new one that stands today. It spanned three lanes, with the center lane being reversible based on traffic necessities.
For nearly twenty years, it operated as a toll bridge. Residents could purchase a special Acosta Bridge license plate that allowed for free travel across the bridge.
The old bridge featured a steel vertical lift design. It earned the nickname “Yellow Monster” due to the steel’s yellow hue and its tendency to get stuck, causing traffic delays.
Construction began on the new six-lane version of the bridge in 1990, and it officially opened in 1994. It includes two sidewalks as well as two monorail tracks running through the middle to accommodate the Skyway.
The new bridge features a box girder design; it utilizes pre-stressed concrete, making it much more reliable than its predecessor. It’s also twice the width of the previous bridge.
It exits onto Water Street and Riverside Avenue at its northbound exit. Its southbound exit extends into San Marco, carrying traffic onto the Acosta Expressway.
The bridge is notable for allowing bicycle traffic in its commuter lanes. Between this, the sidewalks, and the Skyway rails, the Acosta Bridge is one of the most pedestrian-friendly bridges in the city.