JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Buckman Bridge will be getting an emergency shoulder, but that means all the lanes on the bridge need to get a little thinner.
Florida Department of Transportation crews will be restriping parts of the bridge over the next two weekends and to do it they’ll have to close down some lanes of the I-295 west beltway.
At times, when traffic volumes are low -- including from 10 p.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. Sunday -- only one lane of the Buckman Bridge will be open during the restriping.
Lane widths will be reduced on the Buckman Bridge, varying from 10 feet to 11 feet, to allow for an 8-foot emergency shoulder.
The speed limit will also be reduced to 55 mph.
“I think it’s probably a good thing,” said Az Guiragossian, who drives the Buckman daily. “I’m not sure as to what that means during traffic hours because now that they have that extra speedway going through the quick pass. I’m a little leery because people really go fast during that time period.”
The Florida Highway Patrol is urging motorists to pay attention while crews are working and put all distractions away.
“Whether it’s texting while driving, cellphone usage, food, music, passenger distractions, all of these things we do have control over and these are things that take our minds off driving, our hands off the wheel, our eyes off the road, causing a lot of crashes in our area," FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan said.
During the project, troopers are enforcing travel laws and educating drivers along the corridor to make sure everyone stays safe.
“Drivers must take personal responsibility on the roadway by following the speed limit, not driving distracted and properly maintaining their vehicles,” FDOT said in a news release.
Here is the current schedule of activities that impacted Roosevelt Boulevard (U.S. 17) this weekend. Next week, activities will be expected to impact San Jose Boulevard (S.R. 13) March 13 through 15.
From 10 p.m. Saturday, March 7, until 11 a.m. Sunday, March 8, the three outside lanes of the Buckman Bridge (southbound) were closed. During that time, both the northbound and southbound ramps of U.S. 17 to southbound I-295 were detoured to northbound I-295, where drivers exited at Blanding Boulevard and continued to their destination via southbound I-295.
Construction along the I-295 west beltway at the Buckman Bridge is taking place to improve safety along the corridor. This work includes a safety initiative to communicate whether lanes are free-flowing, slowed or blocked on the bridge. Programmable overhead electronic boards and additional CCTV cameras will be installed at several locations on both directions of the bridge to guide lane use, improve traffic flow and enhance safety. Additional signage is also being placed on the bridge to better inform drivers.
The $10.5 million project was awarded to Florida Safety Contractors, Inc. and is expected to be completed in summer 2021, weather and unforeseen circumstances permitting.