JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Anyone who's driven around Northeast Florida roads has probably thought at least once that they could use some improvement.
To that end, the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization recently approved its List of Priority Projects for the next five years.
The “wish list” of sorts includes hundreds of millions of dollars in road improvements in area counties.
One of the biggest project on the list, which has been in the works for some time, is the First Coast Expressway, which is going to eventually hook up Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties. It's a top priority for the North Florida TPO, but it's one the state still need to finance.
Planning and work for the expressway, which will be a toll road, has been underway for years, but it will cost over $1 billion to complete and is currently not a funded project.
The biggest expense will be in Clay County, where a new Shands Bridge will be built over the St. Johns River to connect the beltway to I-95.
“Anytime you do any kind of planning, it all depends on money and how the economy goes and everything,” North Florida TPO chairman Doyle Carter said.
Other projects on the list are funded, and the board wants to make sure they stay that way.
Those include a $17 million project to widen the road leading to The National Cemetery on Jacksonville’s Northside.
“It was just a rural road, but a lot of people travel that now, because it's a national cemetery, so it's become a bigger priority,” Carter said.
The board's five-year, multicounty work plan focuses on the area's top 20 projects, including road improvements, airports, mass transit and port projects.
The board will use the priority list to focus its efforts to convince the state that the transportation funds are needed in Northeast Florida and not in South Florida. Carter acknowledge it will be a tough sell but said the board is ready to fight for the funds.
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