The Death of a Drawbridge

It’s official, and it doesn’t come as any great surprise for those of us who operate the Sisters Creek Drawbridge here in Jacksonville, Florida, but it will soon be going the way of the Dodo Bird. Construction will begin soon, and they anticipate that the fixed flyover bridge will be completed by the summer of 2016. (But I’ve never known a bridge project that didn’t run way, way over deadline, so we’ll see.) Read more about the project here, and see the news footage here. (Although the local news got several facts wrong, the imagery is nice.)

This is the second drawbridge to disappear in this area in the past ten years. The other was the B.B. McCormick Bridge. While neither of these bridges were particularly attractive or historic, people tend to get attached to their drawbridges. There’s something romantic about them. They make you slow down and look about you, which is something we all should be encouraged to do at one point or another.

I admit that drawbridges can be costly to maintain and staff, and that they do slow things down, but the massive 65 foot tall bridge that’s being put across Sisters Creek will cost the taxpayers 44 million dollars, and will have no soul, no spirit, and even less sense of community. As far as I’m concerned, this is a tragedy.

If you have a drawbridge in your area that you love, keep a close eye out for construction projects, because from an infrastructure standpoint, every drawbridge is threatened. Engineers don’t think about these projects with any sense of emotion. Drawbridges must be carefully monitored by the citizenry if they’re to continue to exist. Get them designated at historic structures if possible, because that’s the best protection for them.

Someday if we’re not careful, the last drawbridge will disappear, and that will be a very sad day, indeed.

sisters creek

[Image credit:]


9 thoughts on “The Death of a Drawbridge

  1. KerrickM

    I’m not sure that the new one will lack “soul”, “spirit” or community-fostering power, and the attractiveness of any item is a subjective quality…but I too am saddened to see one of what I consider the fun kind, not being around any more. I’ve lost several in this region.
    Many of the older ones, so I understand, were built in an era when expansion–of population and everything else–was seen as an unalloyed good. Now we find that the world is overpopulated–have known that for 40 years or more but didn’t do anything about it–and overpopulation worsens all the other ecological problems we’ve got. A sane world would have maybe 1/7 as many people and a somewhat reduced but stable [and well-maintained] number of movable bridges.
    The Gatehead thing is bizarre but clever.

    1. Well, I’ve seen the plans for this bridge, and it will be a plain concrete expanse. Nothing but a glorified overpass, and so high above the water that the fishermen won’t be able to fish there anymore. Blech.

      I do love the Gatehead bridge!

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