GRIDLOCK DESTIN: Brooks Bridge closure snarls traffic in Destin, cancels meetings (PHOTOS)

Traffic, Destin

Looking both to the east and to the west, traffic through Destin was going nowhere fast Wednesday after a crane crashed into the Brooks Bridge, causing traffic to be shut down.

Kathy Harrison | The Log
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 05:19 PM.

One thing Jim Wood says he learned from Wednesday's Brooks Bridge closure was the importance of patience in non-ideal situations.

"We have bridges on both sides of us and from time to time they are going to close, whether it's for a storm or a crane hitting the bridge," he said. "When something like this happens, people need to slow down a bit and realize it's going to take a little longer to get home."

Traffic in Destin was backed up for miles after a crane hit the Brooks Bridge shortly after 3 p.m., rupturing  a water pipe and causing the bridge, which links Okaloosa Island to Fort Walton, to be shut down to all traffic.

Driving through the city, the affects of the closure were obvious as traffic in the eastbound lanes of U.S. Hwy. 98 was bumper-to-bumper. With Hwy. 98 in gridlock, some motorists took to the "back roads" for relief. But it was a virtual parking lot there too. Commons Drive, from Airport Road to Henderson Beach Road, saw plenty of congestion as cars were stuck in the roundabouts, pausing north and south traffic in some areas.

Destin Fire Control District Fire Chief Kevin Sasser told The Log there were a couple of accidents along the roadway, but they were only minor incidents, in part to the "slow moving traffic."

With the Brooks Bridge closed for business, motorists detoured to the Mid-Bay bridge but found themselves backed up at the intersection of Hwy. 98 and Danny Wuerffel Way. Given the situation, the Florida Department of Transportation decided to wave bridge tolls, but not after conflicting initial reports.

One city of Destin employee told The Log they left City Hall at 4:55 p.m. to go home to Niceville and it took them until 6:51 p.m. to make it to the toll booth.

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