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Jacksonville, FL (January 13, 2022) – The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) held a Hybrid Public Hearing regarding FDOT’s proposed improvements to the I-95 Interstate corridor through Jacksonville, as well as improvements to Baymeadows Road and Southside Blvd in which Council Member Danny Becton helped initiate changes.  At the meeting, FDOT presented their plans for the proposed additions and scheduled timelines.

During the meeting, FDOT presented its proposed Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) Study that encompassed years of research and development on the proposals.  The current plan is to implement and widen I-95 to five general use lanes and one auxiliary use lane of travel for merging and departing traffic at interchanges from J. Turner Butler Blvd. to Atlantic Blvd.  South of JTB, FDOT presented its plan to widen I-95 to four lanes in each direction, as well as adding auxiliary lanes to meet projected population growth and function of the system in the same manner as the planned improvements north of JTB.  Also given consideration for adjacent property owners, FDOT conducted a Noise Study Analysis that provided a report of recommendations for areas where predicted future traffic noise levels are forecasted to exceed Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) noise standards.  When traffic noise associated with a proposed project is predicted to approach or exceed the Noise Abatement Criteria (NAC) of the FHWA policies at sensitive sites, noise abatement measures must be considered. These measures usually result in the installation of sound walls within those areas.

In addition to widening I-95, the PD&E study also discussed changes to interchanges at Phillips Hwy and Baymeadows Rd within District 11. These changes would improve traffic flow at those on and off ramps, plus provide for major improvements along Baymeadows Road to address capacity, safety, and the efficient movement of traffic in that specific area.  Included within the planned improvements on Baymeadows Road, were initiatives in which Council Member Becton has, over many years, championed which will vastly improve conditions between Old Baymeadows Road and the I-95 interchange.  These improvements include: 1) adding a 3rd west bound lane from Baymeadows Circle East thru Western Way connecting with the current three lanes provided at the interchange; 2) the installation of a new traffic light at Baymeadows Circle West; 3) the modification of traffic flow north & south at Western Way with other median changes within that corridor that include increased length of turn lanes.

“The improvements to Baymeadows Road are long sought-after changes that I have been working with FDOT for years planning, designing, and now looking to complete”, Council Member Becton explained. “Many of these changes are a result of a great partnership with FDOT District 2 administrator, Jim Knight, whereby we looked at the existing constraints within that section of roadway but found some very impactful opportunities to improve the traffic flow and handle the growth that is occurring in that area”, Council Member Becton added. “These changes, I believe, will be transformational for that area and will integrate into the needs of the surrounding businesses and communities along Baymeadows Road,” Council Member Becton concluded.

Part of the improvements being considered in addition to those previously mentioned is the redesign of the traffic flow underneath and through the interchange on Baymeadows Road. The new design, patterned on what is referred to as a “Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI)” also called a double crossover diamond interchange (DCD), allows two directions of traffic on the non-freeway road to cross to the opposite side on both sides of the bridge at the freeway.  It is unusual in that it requires traffic on the freeway underpass to briefly drive on the opposite side of the road from what is customary parallel movement.  The crossover “X” sections can be traffic-light intersections or one-side overpasses to travel above the opposite lanes without stopping, and the latter of which allows nonstop traffic flow when traffic is relatively sparse.  An example of this type intersection is currently being constructed at JTB and San Pablo Road, with expected completion in the very near future. (Visit the below link regarding JTB/San Pablo for an illustration video of a DDI roadway).

The full list of proposed improvements include:

  • Converting the Baymeadows Rd, Belfort Rd at JTB, and I-95 at Emerson St intersections to a Diverging Diamond configuration.
  • Widening I-95 from I-295 and Southside Blvd up through J. Turner Blvd to four 12-foot travel lanes in each direction.
  • Improvements to traffic operations on Baymeadows Rd from Baymeadows Way to Old Baymeadows Rd.
  • Reconfiguring ramps at University Blvd.
  • Philips Highway Interchange improvements.
  • Intersection improvements at Southside/Belle Rive Blvd, Southside/Paradise Island Blvd, and Copper Circle/Emerson St. intersections.
  • Installation of Noise Barriers at qualified locations.

FDOT presented several studies completed over the past several years examining the ecological, environmental, and economic impact on the areas that would be affected by the expansion.  Of note, the study recommended the installation of new stormwater ponds to improve environmental resiliency, which will assist in alleviating potential roadway flooding once the project is completed.

The project is still being modified and is still in the PD&E phase of development; however, a finalized plan will be presented later this year, with more Public Hearings possible, and   projected construction to begin early 2023.

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By Joe Johnson, District 11 Executive Council Assistant and CM Danny Becton.