YULEE, Fla. – Drivers in Yulee are experiencing a major overhaul at the intersection of Interstate 95 and State Road 200/A1A. It’s Northeast Florida first diverging diamond interchange. FDOT officials will be at the interchange Monday morning to monitor conditions through the first weekday rush hour.
In this style interchange, the two directions of traffic underneath I-95 will briefly drive on the opposite side of the road. By moving traffic to the opposite side of the road, the interchange eliminates left turns in front of oncoming traffic and is supposed to greatly improve safety.
“The diverging diamond helps to eliminate conflict points," said FDOT spokesman Hampton Ray. “A traditional interchange about 25 conflict points, which those are places where collisions and crashes are most prone, and this eliminates those conflict points down to 14.”
While transportation officials promise it is more efficient than what it replaced, first reaction from drivers was that it was confusing and unsettling.
“I get it when I go through it, but it is different,” motorist Joe Seaos said. “I had to kind of cut through the cones and get back over into the left lanes so I could turn to go south, so right now, not a fan.”
“I think it is worse. They should have left it the way it was,” Haley Balmer said.
Transportation officials said the interchange eliminates the number of traffic signal phases, improve efficiency at the intersection and reduces traffic queues. This unique style of the interchange has proven to be safer, more efficient and provides improved traffic conditions where it has been implemented, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
“The angles itself make it really safe, to where if you’re following the traffic stripes on the road, if you’re following the traffic signals, you will have no problem,” said FDOT spokesman Hampton Ray.
In an effort to educate drivers on what to expect driving through the interchange, the state released a video explaining the traffic patterns.
The $41 million project includes the newly configured interchange, improved drainage, high-mast lighting and interstate improvements and is expected to be completed by end of 2020, unforeseen circumstances permitting. A pedestrian walkway and bicycle path are also being built in the interchange.
More diverging diamond interchanges like this will be coming in Northeast Florida, including several in Clay County and one is currently under construction in Jacksonville at J. Turner Butler Boulevard and San Pablo Road.
For more information about the interchange including a video on how to navigate this new traffic pattern, visit www.NFLRoads.com/DDI.