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.
The traffic snarl also contributed to the cancellation of Community Center sports and a couple city meetings. At the time, only westbound traffic was permitted on the bridge and eastbound traffic was being re-routed.
It wasn’t all bad though.
While the roadways were moving at a snail’s pace, some motorists pulled off to wait out the log jam. HarborWalk Village's Marketing Director Jamie Hall told The Log some of her tenants saw increased foot traffic.
"People got to stick around a little bit longer, or came by to get away from the traffic, to enjoy the sunset and happy hour," she said. "They were able to enjoy the harbor for a little bit longer than normal before going home."
All four lanes of the Brooks Bridge were open to traffic Thursday morning after inspectors from the Florida Department of Transportation deemed the bridge "structurally safe" and repairs were made.
With the bridge open, the next step is for investigators from the Coast Guard to determine what caused the barge with a crane on it to crash into the bridge above it.
Looking back, Wood told The Log there are plenty of questions he would like to see answered, saying that the entire situation was kind of bizarre.
"You don't really see a crane hit a bridge very often, it's usually a barge hitting the structure," he said. "The question is now, why this guy made a mistake and what happened?"