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Cone Zones: Short-term construction woes worth long-term traffic gains, FDOT says

4 projects aim to make gateway to Sunshine State smoother, safer for commuters

Florida Road Construction
Florida Road Construction

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Memorial Day weekend is only a few days away, and AAA is predicting a busier holiday weekend for drivers hitting the roads.

There are several cone zones you want to pay extra attention to if you’re heading out of Florida or traveling around the River City.

The I-95/I-295 corridor is the gateway to the Sunshine State, and if you drive it often, you know it is constantly filled with construction crews.

The groundbreaking on some of the current improvements started in 2016.

There are concrete barriers, bulldozers, dump trucks, and other construction vehicles all along the side of the road.

The North Interchange Project is designed to modernize the Northside of town to improve safety, traffic flow and increase capacity.

By 2040, the Florida Department of Transportation expects traffic in that area to nearly double.

“That’s a major corridor as well because you have JaxPort right there as well as River City Marketplace and of course Jacksonville’s airport,” said Hampton Ray, FDOT spokesperson, who pointed out it’s also a thoroughfare for those headed through town south toward Orlando.

This project has a price tag of more than $176 million and is expected to be completed by spring 2022.

There will continue to be temporary lane closures and nighttime detours happening during off-peak traffic times.

The gateway to Florida may not look pretty right now, but drivers can expect the improvements to make this part of the route much smoother and safer.

Meanwhile, as more people plan to hit the roads for the summer holidays, FDOT is working to give drivers more options when traveling around the River City.

Two cone zones are working to eventually help you get where you’re going faster.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth on the Westside, even out to Macclenny,” Ray said, “so this project supports that growth.”

The I-10 widening project is working to add 10 lanes between 295 and 95.

FDOT says about 137,000 vehicles travel that route every day with that number only expected to rise as more people move to the River City.

The traffic volume is predicted to increase significantly over the next two decades, which is why FDOT is working now to alleviate traffic issues in the years ahead.

Speaking of increased traffic volume, FDOT is giving drivers more choices on the east beltway to get to where they’re going quicker by adding express lanes between JTB and SR-9B on 295.

With summer right around the corner, this is a popular route for drivers heading to the coast and the St. Johns Town Center.

“Drivers are seeing a lot of improvements there. We also added an additional lane on I-295 that extends from JTB to SR-9B. You get three general use lanes, which are free lanes on the roadway. We’ve already seen a tremendous impact to traffic speeds, definitely faster,” said Ray.

Both the I-10 widening project and the addition of express lanes on 295 from JTB to SR-9B are working to give drivers better options to navigate traffic.

When traveling on I-10 between the beltway and downtown, you’ll notice all the construction, but it shouldn’t affect your drive -- most of the work is off to the side.

The project is very extensive and is expected to be completed by 2025.

Meanwhile, the new 12-foot express lanes on the east beltway are expected to be complete by the fall of this year with a price tag of nearly $140 million.

“They’re very similar to the west beltway in that they’re basically one entrance and one exit,” Ray said. “It is a choice for drivers.”

The new lanes will have tolls, giving drivers better choices on the highway that will make for a safer commute for all of us trying to get around town.

Another project happening to the south of Jacksonville is the resurfacing of I-95.

This is a routine project that happens nearly every two decades.

Click below to find out how resurfacing our roads keeps traffic moving smoother and drivers safer.

Also, Ray joined The Morning Show at 9 a.m. to share a few important reminders for drivers when traveling through work zones.

For more information on these four projects, click here.

Making Travel Easier In Jacksonville
Making Travel Easier In Jacksonville

About the Author:

Anchors the 4:30 a.m. newscast, provides traffic updates throughout the rest of The Morning Show, then reports on events in the community.