Residents voice traffic concerns over Hart Bridge Expressway changes

Public meeting held Wednesday about $39 million project set to begin next month

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville is one step closer to tearing down part of the Hart Bridge Expressway, as city officials say J.B. Coxwell was the low bidder that was awarded the project.

It comes as a meeting was held Wednesday for the public to meet with city and state leaders to become more knowledgeable about the $39 million Hart Bridge Overpass Ramps Project.

City leaders say they’re hoping to start the project in February. They’re waiting on a contract to be executed and then they’re hoping to move as quickly as possible.

But some people who attended the meeting say they’re not ready for the expressway to come down.

“I think this project is the most damnedest, most stupid project I’ve ever heard of other than selling the JEA," said resident Andy Johnson.

The project consists of removing the elevated section of the Hart Bridge Expressway through the Sports and Entertainment Complex.

REPORT: Details, plans for Hart Bridge Overpass Ramps Project

Johnson and other people who use the Hart Bridge on a daily basis feel the project will create a traffic headache.

“It’s the most direct way for us for us to go use another bridge could easily add another 20 minutes to any trip that we have to take just inside the city," resident Victor Dellalba said.

Johnson added: “I think it will cause traffic problems, cause delays."

The city says the changes will improve access and connection to downtown and will eliminate a visual barrier to the St. Johns River.

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.

City Council President Scott Wilson says there will be a detour to help with traffic.

“During construction, they’re going to bring construction down on Parker Street and around the football stadium back down to Bay Street and what they’ll do is they’ll have police officers at every traffic signal, directing traffic, so that traffic does not have to stop," Wilson said.

Another concern people had was flooding. The city says there are talks of building a wall where the St. Johns River is to prevent flooding issues.

Officials say the project will take roughly two years to complete.

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