The Florida Department of Transportation began construction Monday on the northern part of the First Coast Expressway.
The project limits of the first phase of the expressway, formerly known as the Outer Beltway, are in Duval County from south of Interstate 10 to north of Argyle Forest Boulevard. The First Coast Expressway will be a new toll road.
The second phase in Clay County between Argyle Forest and Blanding boulevards is scheduled to begin in early 2014. Benefits of the First Coast Expressway include expanding a road corridor to handle growth in developing areas of northeast Florida, FDOT officials said.
The work that started Monday includes adding two lanes between New World Avenue and 103rd Street (State Road 134), resurfacing the pavement within the project limits and constructing interchanges at New World Avenue, Normandy Boulevard (State Road 228) and 103rd Street. The side roads will cross over the First Coast Expressway.
Other activities include realigning Chaffee Road to connect with Samaritan Way, building automated tolling facilities for electronically paid tolls south of New World Avenue, building noise walls for portions of the Bent Creek and Blue Lake Estates subdivisions and constructing drainage ponds and an underground stormwater system.
The first construction activities on the project will be building noise walls and starting work on the drainage systems.
The construction cost of the first phase is $77 million and should be completed in early 2016. The construction cost of the second section of the First Coast Expressway in Clay County is estimated at $90 million and should take about two-and-a-half years to complete. Tolls will not be collected until both segments are finished.
No lane closings will be allowed on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. The existing speed limits on State Road 23 and all side streets will remain the same during construction. Fines for speeding in the construction area will be doubled while workers are present.
A related project to support the First Coast Expressway is nearing completion. Currently under construction are frontage roads in Clay County from Oakleaf Plantation and to Old Jennings Road. This $13.2 million project began on Sept. 10, 2012, and should be completed later this year. No tolls will be collected on the frontage roads, which will be part of a non-tolled road system adjacent to the First Coast Expressway.
For additional details about the First Coast Expressway, visit the project website at www.firstcoastexpressway.com.