Next step in First Coast Expressway nearing completion

Once completed, travel between Baldwin, County Road 210 becomes easier

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. - The First Coast Expressway, which will connect I-10 near Baldwin with I-95 in St. Johns County, continues taking steps toward completion.

The project still has a long way to go, but essentially, drivers heading north of Middleburg will be seeing a lot of progress very soon.

Jacksonville’s I-295 outer beltway project is enormous, and if you look at a map, you can likely tell why connecting I-10 out near Baldwin to I-95 south of Country Road 210 is no easy feat. Locals wonder when it will be finished.

Crystal Baxter regularly drives the outer beltway and said that people are anxious to see the project completed.

“It’s causing a lot of traffic with all the construction,” she said. 

The first section that stretches from I-10 to Blanding Boulevard down near Middleburg is slated to be finished late this year. That will include a lot of traffic shifts along the way that have confused drivers.

“Construction all the time.  And they switch the routes all the time.  It’s like, annoying all the time.  Because you’re going to Oakleaf and you have to go all around to get somewhere,” said Clay County residents Kelsey Keene and Faith Obenauer.

MAPS: See where the routes and tolls are planned

The next phase runs through the heart of Clay County from Middleburg to Lake Asbury and eventually through Green Cove Springs. Construction won’t start until January of 2019 and it’s why Clay County resident Marilyn Brown has come up with a name for this bridge near Middleburg High School.

“We’ve got a bridge to nowhere on Blanding,” Brown said.

But the Department of Transportation disputes the assertion that it’s a “Bridge To Nowhere." Officials said that bridge near the high school will be an on-ramp that will open at the end of the year and provide a way for drivers on Blanding Boulevard to access the expressway.

The third phase that will connect Green Cove to I-95 in St. Johns County is planned to replace the Shands Bridge and is awaiting approval. Brown wonders if she’ll ever drive it.

“If I live long enough, I might be able to go to St. Augustine faster,” Brown said.

Much of this project involves toll roads. The tolls will begin once the segments of the road north of Argyle Forest Boulevard and Blanding are constructed.  A summary of the proposed tolls is below.

DOT also added that while you will be able to navigate around the tolls with local roads, it would be prudent to get a Sunpass to have on a day when there aren’t good traffic alternatives.

 

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