FDOT moving forward with express lanes

Officials holding open house at UNF from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation is moving forward with another project, designed to ease congestion on a busy highway.

They are going to add express lanes to a section of Interstate 295, but drivers will have to pay a toll to use those lanes.

On Tuesday, the public is invited to an open house about the project.

It's an informal open house being held at the University of North Florida, followed by a presentation and the chance for some public comment. FDOT project managers said the next phase of adding express lanes on I-295 will be previewed there.

It's a four-mile-long project with a price tag of $155 million and those improvements will also cost you.

FDOT plans on adding express toll lanes to help with rush hour traffic.

"I'm from the south, south in Florida, so I'm used to the tolls and it actually speeds up some in the express lanes if you want to pay it," said Doug Nelson, who approves of the new project.

In Jacksonville, the FDOT will start construction later this year on the first phase-express lanes on I-295 between I-95 and the Buckman Bridge in Mandarin.

Tuesday, they're looking for more input on the second phase. Two new lanes on the I-295 East Beltway between State Road 9B and Butler Boulevard. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.

"I would rather keep as much money in my pocket as I can, but they're going to do what they're going to do they really make the choices up there. Not us, not the people," said Taylor Gay who is against the project.

The tolls would be collected through Sunpass, an automated system used on highways throughout the state. FDOT said the toll price would vary depending on the demand during rush hour times. Signs would be posted ahead of the lanes so people can decide whether to use them or not.

"I drive an hour and 15 minutes each way to work every day, and if it would cut my commute down by half an hour, depending on what it would cost, that would be an hour each day with my family as compared to on the road. I'd be glad to pay it," said Rob Hockersmith, who approves of the project.

If you'd like to give your two cents on these express lanes, the open house is Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the University center at UNF and after that, a presentation will be given and public comment will be allowed.