MILTON, Fla., March 11, 2021—Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office began stepping up enforcement of reckless driving on the Garçon Point Bridge Thursday.
Since the Pensacola Bay Three-Mile Bridge closed after multiple construction barges hit and damaged it during Hurricane Sally last September, north-south traffic on the Garçon Point Bridge has increased fivefold.
According to Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson, the Florida Department of Transportation has determined that traffic has increased from an average of 7,000 vehicles a day to about 35,000 daily on the bridge.
“Within a five-day span, from Feb. 28 to March 4, we had two fatal crashes,” said Johnson. “We’ve also had 160 reckless driving complaints in the bridge area over the timespan since the Three-Mile Bridge closed.”
One of the fatal collisions almost killed one of his deputies, he said. A car passing in the no-passing zone on the bridge almost hit the deputy head-on and ended up hitting another car. The driver died in the accident.
Beginning March 11, two deputies will be assigned to each end of the bridge at all times, targeting people passing on the bridge, according to the sheriff. Another deputy will rove between Interstate 10 and the bridge.
“We can’t fix stupid, but we can give it a court date.”
Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson
“We’re going to start stopping some of this crazy driving,” said Johnson.
According to the sheriff, 99 percent of the drivers obey the law.
“I’m going to address that 1 percent that think they’re special, and they can’t wait, and they have to pass on a double yellow line on a bridge like an idiot,” he said. “Since you think you’re special, we’re going to make you special.
“You pass on that bridge in a reckless fashion, we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to put you in the ‘Milton Hilton,’ and we’re going to tow your car.”
The objective is to prevent more fatal bridge accidents.
“So for that 1 percent who want to pass on that bridge, we can’t fix stupid, but we can give it a court date, so test us and see what happens,” said Johnson.
Tolls on the Garçon Point Bridge have been suspended since just after Hurricane Sally.