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!
Opened to traffic in 1970, the Henry Holland Buckman Bridge provides the connection between Mandarin and Orange Park via I-295’s West Beltway.
The Buckman Bridge carries traffic on the I-295 West Beltway between exits for San Jose Blvd. and Park Ave./Roosevelt Blvd.
The bridge was constructed in the late 1960s. The process was not entirely smooth; according to a 2008 retrospective by the Times-Union, construction had to be halted at one point due to explosions caused by excess methane gas coming from the river.
It was expanded to eight lanes in the mid-1990s to accommodate the massive traffic demands.
The bridge features a steel multi-beam design. It’s a dual bridge, wherein eastbound and westbound traffic each have their own separate bridge span. It holds the record for most dual bridge lane miles, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. Its total length is 16,300 feet — that’s about 3.1 miles, making it among the longest bridges in the country.
The bridge is named in honor of Henry Holland Buckman. Buckman, a Jacksonville native, was a legislator perhaps best known for the Buckman Act, which he authored in 1905. It organized the state universities of Florida into three categories: one for women which became Florida State University, one for men which became University of Florida, and a racially segregated school for black Floridians which became Florida A&M University.
The Buckman Bridge is considered by many to be a headache due to its frequent traffic backups, and it’s perhaps the city’s most accident-prone bridge due to its incline and length.