JTB ramps at Hodges to be lengthened

Numerous crashes documented along stretch of road in last year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After fielding dozens of complaints from drivers and recording dozens of accidents, major changes are in the works for what drivers call a dangerous stretch of road: Butler Boulevard at the intersection of Hodges Boulevard.

That's where the Department of Transportation is planning a project that could save lives.

The plan is to lengthen the exit ramps for both east and westbound drivers, giving them more room to slow down.

Minjeong Bucher was involved in a four-car pileup last month near the intersection that left her minivan crushed between two vehicles. She said three cars were totaled, and she couldn't walk for days because of neck, knee and leg injuries she sustained driving home at rush hour.

"The pickup truck hit me and the SUV, so I was between two cars. It was really bad," Bucher said. "I think it's really dangerous because the lanes come together from (Interstate 295) north, (I-295) south and JTB, and especially traffic times."

Bucher is just one of dozens of drivers involved in accidents last year near the exit ramps. Just last month, a man from Louisiana was killed in three-car pileup. DOT officials say they are aware of the problem that has grown with an increase in traffic.

"What happened several years ago, they widened Butler, which means traffic is getting down Butler quickly," DOT spokesman Mike Goldman said.

Several pieces of cars left over from crashes, along with skid marks, remain on the stretch of highway.

DOT officials say they plan to lengthen the exit ramps so drivers have more time to slow down.

"It is an issue, and we were receiving complaints traffic was getting down the main road quicker to the exits," Goldman said.

As for Bucher, she says she refuses to drive along the road again.

"It was just so surprised, so sudden, and I didn't expect, who expected the accident," she said.

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