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Changes coming for I-295, I-95 interchange on Northside

Growth at airport, JaxPort help push improvements, governor says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Construction workers will soon break ground on a reconfigured interchange between I-295 and I-95 on the Northside that Florida Department of Transportation officials said will improve traffic flow.

Gov. Rick Scott made the announcement Thursday during a news conference that highlighted booming business at JaxPort and the Jacksonville International Airport as catalysts for the improvements.

Officials said the project will alleviate some of the issues that are expected as growth continues.

"Traffic along the corridor is expected to double on I-295 within the next 20 years or so. We need to prepare and get ahead of it,” FDOT spokesman Hampton Ray said.

That means that more than 100,000 vehicles are expected to travel that route each day.

Scott said the state's increased transportation budget is being put to good use, including a $103 million investment in the I-95/I-295 Interchange Project.

"It's going to enhance safety; it's going to have better flow,” Scott said. “JaxPort's a big job opportunity for us, and it's going to enhance access to JaxPort."

The reconfiguration includes constructing flyovers, ramps and other road improvements using a collector-distributor system.

"Essentially what that means is through traffic will continue to go and exiting traffic will have a dedicated lane,” Ray explained. “That way you don't have the weaving that is very common in that stretch."

Some drivers won't be happy about the process, though, which will include road closures, construction cones and traffic backups. But FDOT officials said it will be worth it.

"This is a short-term inconvenience for a long-term gain,” FDOT secretary Jim Boxold said. “If folks can bear with us, we'll get through this construction, and at the end of the day, the drivers will benefit and the rest of Jacksonville will benefit."

FDOT is working with the contractor to make sure lane closures and other roadblocks in conjunction with the project don't occur during peak hours or events that bring more traffic to the area.

Equipment and construction workers should be in place in the area by the end of the month.

The design and construction of the $177 million project has been funded with state and federal money. The project is expected to take 3 1/2 years, with the reconfiguration complete in the summer of 2020.

FDOT will host a construction open house for the project from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Oceanway Assembly of God church. Interested parties can meet with project engineers and representatives from the department to learn more, ask questions and review plan details.

For more information on the project, go to http://nflroads.com.