Drive toward downtown Jacksonville on any major highway and you’ll find many choices on which to cross the mighty St. Johns River.
The river naturally delineates “JAX” into Northbank and Southbank, as each side of downtown Jacksonville is known, and motor vehicles, pedestrians and trains zip back and forth along its bridges all day and night.
Eight bridges span the St. Johns here, and if you’re a new resident, what better way to acclimate to one of Florida’s most vibrant cities than to learn how to cross its signature waterway?
We’re not discussing the smaller community bridges across bays, coves or even the Intracoastal Waterway further east. We’re spotlighting those eight big conduits downtowns.
In no particular order, enjoy our quick primer on Jacksonville’s signature bridges.
Fuller Warren Bridge
If you’re traveling through downtown on Interstate 95, this part is the bridge that carries you over the St. Johns. Named for a former Florida governor, this bridge is big (eight lanes) and busy, but provides a nice panorama of downtown skyline to the north. Look only if you’re not driving!
Dames Point Bridge
Technically, the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge, in honor of another former Florida governor. It’s a large cable-stayed bridge, easily distinguished by its high spires that resemble sails from a distance. It carries the Interstate 295 beltway across the St. Johns River on the east side of Jacksonville.
This bridge carries six lanes of State Road 13 across the St. Johns River, plus two median lanes for the Jacksonville Skyway train and two pedestrian lanes. It’s a popular bridge for downtown runners and walkers, and was named for former city councilman St. Elmo W. Acosta.
Main Street Bridge
The Main Street Bridge is just east of the Acosta Bridge. This is the “Blue Bridge.” Its daytime color becomes even more vibrant at night thanks to blue lighting. It’s the bridge that dominates nighttime photographs of downtown Jacksonville. And if you use your imagination, it even resembles a mini-London Bridge from a distance. The Main Street Bridge also is a bit unusual because it’s the only Jacksonville bridge that’s a “lift” bridge. Google it.
The Matthews Bridge connects the suburb of Arlington — on the east side of the St. Johns — with downtown. This is the reddish, scaffolding-like bridge you’ll see in the near distance of EverBank Field (home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars). Its namesake is former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice John E. Matthews.
FEC Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge
This is a railroad bridge that contains two tracks of the Florida East Coast Railway and it’s located near the Acosta Bridge in downtown Jacksonville. The Trunnion Bridge also is a drawbridge — or a “bascule” — that stays open for ship traffic except when trains need to use it.
The Hart Bridge’s metal trusses are painted a bright green. It’s a bit southwest of the Matthews Bridge and also serves as a conduit for U.S. 1 (Alt.) and State Road 228 into downtown Jacksonville. You also can see the Hart Bridge from EverBank Field, and white lights brighten the bridge at night. It’s named for Jacksonville’s founder, Isaiah Hart.
This is longest of Jacksonville’s bridges, at three miles. It’s also a workhorse that carries eight lanes of the I-295 beltway over the St. Johns River south of the city. It’s named for former state legislator Henry Holland Buckman.
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