Wrecks at Butler, Hodges raise concerns

Construction underway to improve intersection

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are new concerns over a recent round of accidents at Butler and Hodges boulevards, and they're now causing the Florida Department of Transportation to take a closer look at the area.

Construction at the intersection started last Wednesday to add additional turn lanes, all in an effort to ease traffic as it comes off Butler.

"I think what they have in place and what they're currently constructing, I think will be beneficial to the area and should eliminate some of the issues that we are having," said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Dylan Bryan.

DOT spokesman Mike Goldman said it's way too early to know exactly what caused some pileups Tuesday, but he said the department will be looking at the crash reports to see if there is anything more that needs to be done there.

"JTB and Hodges is currently an area that's on our focus," explained Sgt. Bryan. "We like to initiate selective enforcement and educational programs to reduce the number of traffic crashes that are occurring there."

The $1.1 million construction project will allow drivers more room at the exit, officials said, with turn lanes at both the eastbound and westbound ramps. Officials said it will also prevent traffic from backing up on Butler.

Investigators say it's unclear if a backlog of cars played a role in the fender-bender and seven-car crash during rush hour Tuesday morning, but DOT officials say construction at the ramp was not being done at the time.

According to FHP, the area does appear to be prone to crashes. In fact, since the beginning of the year, 51 crashes have been reported at JTB and Hodges.

Investigators told Channel 4 the majority of those crashes have been due to careless driving, including speeding or following too closely, and failure to yield.

With crash reports in the works, both the FHP and DOT said it could be some time before they know if any other changes need to be made to the area.

"We can't speculate, what we're going to be doing is just looking at the conditions, looking at the crash reports and anything to speculate would be premature," said Goldman. "We're obviously going to look at that corridor, and what we do is we have traffic engineers and they look at the pavement markings, the signage, the road conditions and we obviously need to talk to the Highway Patrol about the crash reports, but it's something that sometimes takes a little bit of time to analyze."

The expansion project is expected to be done by the end of the year but could take longer with holidays and weather delays. For now, the Florida Highway Patrol is reminding drivers to take things slow, not text and drive, and maintain a safe distance between the car in front.