JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville offered a closer look at the $39 million Hart Bridge Overpass Ramps Project at a Downtown Investment Authority meeting this week.
For drivers, the Hart Bridge Expressway is a convenient way to get in and out of Downtown Jacksonville.
But city leaders and planners say the expressway has no future and they plan to demolish three-quarters of the four-lane elevated road.
Images in a report from the Public Works department show that the elevated section of the Hart Bridge Expressway through the Sports and Entertainment Complex will be removed.
The city says the changes will improve access and connection to Downtown and will eliminate a barrier to the St. Johns River. The project is slated to begin in the first few months of 2020 and should be finished by the end of 2021.
The city plans to construct a new ramp from the Hart Bridge down to Gator Bowl Boulevard, where there will be an intersection with a signal light.
From that intersection west to A. Philip Randolph Boulevard, there will be a four-lane, ground-level road with a median and a 12-foot bike path along the south side of the road.
Another ramp will connect the ground-level road to the portion of the existing elevated expressway that will not be demolished and will continue into Downtown.
Will Frazier, of Bold City Brewery, said the changes are necessary for his business, which has been open on East Bay Street for a year and a half.
“Getting more traffic down here is key,” Frazier said. “I get people in that say, 'Hey, this is the first time I actually stopped in Jacksonville. We have driven through Jacksonville on the highway, but we never stopped Downtown in our life.'”
Frazier believes the changes to the expressway will bring more business his way.
The project is being funded through a partnership with local, state and federal funding dollars.