What drivers need to know before I-295 express lanes open in Mandarin

If you choose to use express lanes, you use must use SunPass or face $25 fine

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Drivers in Jacksonville will soon be able to take the fast lane as the Interstate 295 express lanes in Mandarin are almost complete after years of construction.

The new pavement and fresh paint are noticeable while driving along I-295 in Mandarin, but Sky 4 aerial video showed Tuesday there's still quite a bit of work to be done along the 6-mile stretch of express lanes between the Buckman Bridge and Interstate 95. 

There will be pipe barriers added to separate the express lanes from the current lanes. Toll gantries still need to be installed along the route and more asphalt will be laid. When it's all done, according to the Florida Department of Transportation, the express lanes will help ease the heavy traffic and give drivers an option to ride the fast lane for a fee. 

If you choose to use the express lanes along I-295 in Mandarin, you must use a SunPass. If you don't, you'll be facing a $25 fine. 

The express lanes are different from the First Coast Expressway, connecting I-10 to Blanding Boulevard on the Westside, in that the tolls will change depending on how many people are using it at the time. It starts at 50 cents. The express lanes will not offer toll-by-plate, so you need to purchase a SunPass, which is cheaper than the $25 fine for using the express lanes without one.

Express lanes

The second phase of express lanes from State Road 9B to J. Turner Butler Boulevard is under construction.

VIEW: Map of Northeast Florida express lanes |
RESOURCE: FDOT answers frequently asked questions about I-295 express lanes 

There are also plans to continue to express lanes to the Dames Point Bridge and add express lanes along I-95 between International Golf Parkway in St. Johns County to Atlantic Boulevard in Duval County. Those plans are still in the design phases and not funded.

The toll lanes in Mandarin are expected to open sometime in the spring and the remainder of the toll lanes along the east beltway will open in the summer. 

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