JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city is getting ready to tear down part of the Hart Bridge Expressway.
Work is expected this spring, and several companies are currently in line to get the job. Part of the elevated road will be moved to ground level as part of the plan to develop Lot J and the Shipyards site.
Back in the 1960s when the Hart Bridge and the expressway were built, it cost nearly $9 million. Now, tearing down the ramps leading from the bridge to the area of TIAA Bank Field could cost nearly triple that amount.
Three companies have just submitted bids to the city to do the work. The price tag ranges from $25 million to more than $32 million.
“The money is appropriated -- the federal dollars, the state dollars and the city dollars,” Mayor Lenny Curry told News4Jax on Thursday. “It will be good for traffic flow to the port and it will also be good for economic development downtown.”
Here is the plan: Once a bid is accepted, which could happen in several weeks, work could begin sometime early this year. The ramps will go to street level to open up traffic to the area. According to the mayor’s office, that will make the Shipyards site and Lot J more accessible. Additionally, a new major intersection will be added at Gator Bowl Boulevard. It’s expected to be completed a little less than two years from now -- by the end of 2021.
All of this work ties into the development of Lot J, which the Jaguars want to make into an entertainment complex. The mayor said Thursday that the Jaguars and the city are close to an agreement on that price tag, which is now nearly $700 million.
“The teams are negotiating. I know they’re close. They are really close," Curry said. “So when these deals are happening -- any deal -- I understand what’s happening conceptually and in theory. And once it’s final, that’s when it gets to me. And from there, if it looks like it will be supported by the city -- and at this point, it does -- it moves on to DIA (Downtown Investment Authority) and the City Council.”
So while the money has been approved to tear down the ramps, that’s not the case with Lot J at this time.