Kennedy Drawbridge Hits A Snag


On Tuesday, November 4, the Kennedy Drawbridge in downtown Tampa was shut down early in the morning hours when a cable connected to a drill rig snagged onto the bridge structure. The accident occurred when a tugboat veered too close to the edge of the open drawbridge. After realizing what happened, crews with the City of Tampa and the District Seven Bridge Office rushed to stabilize the rig immediately. Although they were able to prevent any visible damage, the bridge had to remain in an upright position until they could safely remove the cable and the partially submerged tugboat that was pinned under the rig. Due to this mishap, traffic was redirected and vehicles were forced to use other bridges over the Hillsborough River.

The Kennedy Drawbridge was built in 1913, which means removing the cable would be a slow and delicate process to make sure there would be no harm to the 100-year-old bridge. That afternoon, a press conference was held to notify the media and public of the status of one of Tampa’s oldest and most treasured landmarks. District Bridge Engineer Jim Jacobsen reassured the press and hundreds of onlookers that the bridge would most likely be fine. “She’s a pretty strong bridge. If it’s not bent, it should be OK,” he stated.

After working tirelessly through the night, the workers were able to use a crane to relieve the bridge of tension caused by the cable after raising the rig. Once the cable was cut loose with a torch, the drilling rig was gently lowered onto a barge and the sunken tugboat was safely raised out of the water. After the bridge was inspected by FDOT officials, Jacobsen announced to a large applause that there was no damage and normal operation could resume. On Wednesday night, after nearly 36 hours, the Kennedy Boulevard drawbridge was finally reopened to traffic thanks to the hard work from all the crews involved.”