JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the approval of Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposal, about $430 million will be coming to Northeast Florida, mostly for new road construction like the First Coast Expressway.
Arial footage from the News4Jax SKY4 helicopter shows progress has been made on the toll-road that will eventually span 46 miles, starting at Interstate 10, passing through Clay County and crossing over the St. Johns River to end at Interstate 95 in St. Johns County.
News4Jax spoke to the Florida Department of Transportation about the progress of the expressway and found out the funds are already being utilized before the approval of the new budget.
The first phase from Interstate 10 to Blanding Boulevard is nearly complete. Because of recent storms, there's been a delay in getting the toll gantries up and running, but the FDOT said it hasn’t heard any complaints from drivers getting a free ride on the expressway for an extended period of time.
The tolls will range anywhere from 20 cents to 85 cents, depending on whether drivers use a SunPass or Toll-By-Plate rate. The FDOT said it expects the tolls to take effect by summer 2018. Several intersections along the route will be toll-free.
The wheels are already turning on phase two, connecting Blanding Boulevard to the Shands Bridge. Scott proposed nearly $300 million of the budget to help fund phase two, money that the FDOT is already putting to use with plans to begin construction at the start of 2019. Phase two will include a new bridge over Black Creek and Diverging Diamond Interchanges.
The FDOT said it is still looking for federal funding to move forward with phase three planning, which would continue the expressway to Interstate 95 in St. Johns County, replacing the Shands Bridge with a bridge with more lanes and space for pedestrians.
The FDOT said plans and designs aren't expected to be completed until 2020 or later.