I-295, Collins Road interchange opens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Interstate 295 and Collins Road interchange on the Westside opened Monday. It is meant to help traffic in the area move more smoothly.

The construction project connecting the Argyle area to the interstate was completed sooner than expected, and state officials say it's great news for the economy.

"There are jobs created in the process of building the road, so that's a win," state Sen. Audrey Gibson said.

Car dealership owner Jack Hanania said it was common for customers to complain about access to his business, and the new interchange should make it easier to get there.

"This is going to take a lot of pressure off the Blanding (Boulevard) exit and move traffic down to Collins," he said.

Already seen from the interstate are one-way frontage roads paralleling I-295 in each direction. The two lane road runs for 4.3 miles, allowing through traffic to merge onto Blanding Boulevard or U.S. Highway 17.

The Collins Road interchange is meant to alleviate Blanding's clogged arteries and lessen accidents along I-295.

Travelers will be able to access Collins Road from the frontage roads and not the main interstate line.

Commuters have mixed feelings about the new interchange.

"It's not going to help anything," driver John Valarinos said. "If anything, it's going to get worse because now you're going to have traffic getting off at Collins Road heading to Oakleaf, and there's a significant amount of people back there."

"My concern is that coming out of my subdivision now is that there has been a frequency of car accidents, so there may have to be a short light put there because it's so close to the entrance to Collins Road," one driver said.

The $65 million interchange project is about 99 percent federally funded. The Florida Department of Transportation spent an additional $9.6 million.

The project began in 2011 and is 90 percent complete. All ramps on the project should be open by mid-December.

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