Construction of new bridge over St. Johns River bridge set for 2022

Bridge between Clay-St. Johns counties part of First Coast Expressway project

A new bridge that will connect Clay and St. Johns counties as part of the First Coast Expressway project will start in 2022, a year sooner than expected, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. 

The bridge over the St. Johns River will be constructed just south of the existing two-lane Shands Bridge and will include four travel lanes, as well as emergency shoulders and a multiuse pathway for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Larry Williams, a Clay County resident who lives next to the State Road 16 Shands Bridge is ready for the construction to get underway.

"We're actually excited about it because it will decrease the commute to the Jacksonville area almost by half which is exciting," Williams said.

The vertical clearance of the new bridge will be 65 feet from the waterline, compared with the current 45-foot clearance, according to FDOT. The additional 20 feet will match the height of the Buckman Bridge and improve marine commerce in the region.

"What's not so exciting is the construction which I understand is going to be accelerated and start probably less than a year from now and will last approximately five years," Williams said.

Construction of the new bridge is expected to cost about $324 million and take about five years to complete.

"Once it's finished we're looking forward to it," Williams said.

The First Coast Expressway project will ultimately span 46 miles across parts of Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties.