JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Vital construction is underway in one of the most infamous spots for traffic in Jacksonville, but people who travel the intersection at J. Turner Butler Boulevard and San Pablo Road will have to wait a couple of more years before it’s finished.
The Florida Highway Department of Transportation said contractors are on schedule to complete the Northeast Florida-region’s first diverging diamond interchange in Spring 2022.
Diverging diamond roads have been used in France since the 1970s, but the use of the pattern exploded in recent decades. The diverging diamond interchange was listed by Popular Science magazine as one of the best innovations in 2009 in the engineering category.
The design also falls in line with the Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts initiative. It’s a program that encourages the use of technologies and methods that improves travel time, safety, project and contract management, saving energy, risks, cost, and environmental resources.
The design is thought to increase safety for bicyclists and pedestrians too, but not all are supportive of the project. Some drivers expressed concerns, thinking of seniors who travel the road to access the Mayo Clinic.
The intersection at J. Turner Butler Boulevard and San Pablo Road sees 150,000 vehicles travel through it every day, according to FDOT estimates. Data shows the intersection was the site of 36 crashes in 2018 and 42 in 2019. Troopers said people were injured in 20 of those 78 wrecks.
What are workers doing right now?
Contractors for FDOT are excavating an embankment for all four ramps and laying temporary pavement.
Eventually, major traffic shifts will be in place as the project advances, but workers will need to complete utility relocation and install a storm drain on San Pablo Road first. FDOT anticipates installation on this to begin in either the late summer or early fall.
The St. Johns County-based company, Watson Civil Construction, is the project contractor.
In another district, FDOT is also constructing diverging diamond interchanges at Interstate 95 and State Road A1A (State Road 200) in Nassau County, First Coast Expressway and Henley Road in Clay County, and First Coast Expressway, and State Road 16 in Clay County.
FDOT reminds drivers to stay alert while driving through active construction zones, slow down, and watch out for workers.