Major (confusing) shift for I-95 drivers headed downtown

Lane shift changes how drivers exit to Philips Highway, Atlantic Boulevard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you drive through the I-95 downtown interchange regularly, you're probably used to changes.

Construction has kept lanes shifting for years and another big shift happened Saturday night.

Drivers will have to get used to a new traffic pattern along I-95 south coming off the Fuller Warren Bridge, changing how you exit onto Atlantic Boulevard and U.S. 1 (Philips Highway).

Instead of traffic flowing in one direction, I-95 southbound will turn into two separate roadways. 

Those wanting to continue on I-95 and bypass the downtown area will stay in the left lanes, while drivers who want to exit to Philips Highway and Atlantic Boulevard will have to get in the right lane.

Confused? So were we, so transportation officials took our crew for a ride to see the changes firsthand.

The traffic shift begins right after the San Marco Boulevard exit.

The three left lanes will be for I-95 south traffic, shifting onto the new roadway that will have no exits until Emerson Street. The right lane turns into a designated service road and will be the only way to access the Atlantic Boulevard and Philips Highway exits.

And you can't change your mind at the last minute. The two roads are separated by a concrete barrier.

The Department of Transportation said the shift will relieve some of the congestion in that stretch of I-95 and keep traffic moving. They will have signs alerting drivers to the traffic shift.

Many drivers may miss the exits coming off the Fuller Warren Bridge, but it's OK. Just continue along I-95 south, exit at Emerson Street and turn right to Philips Highway. 

Shifting four lanes of the interstate is a process and will begin around 8 p.m. Saturday. 

You may want to take a test drive before the workweek starts to get familiar with the new lanes and allow extra time to get around next week.