On Thursday morning, the city’s latest expressway link opened, creating a short cut from US 1 (Philips Highway) to I-295 East Beltway. The three-mile, four-lane roadway is designed to be expanded up to six lanes with minor changes and minimal inconvenience to drivers. All bridges are built to accommodate future expansion without the need to be completely reconstructed.

Serving as Phase One of State Road 9B, the $68 million project was funded by federal stimulus dollars remaining from other federally funded projects that were completed under budget. The project was bid as a design/build contract awarded to the design build team of Archer Western Contractors / GAI Consultants. Construction on the highway started in Summer 2010.

SR 9B Phase One. Click to enlarge.

Construction on Phase Two of State Road 9B is already underway. Phase Two will include new interchanges at US 1 (Philips Highway) and Interstate 95. Noise walls are currently being installed adjacent to the Flagler Station residential development. Construction of this phase was accelerated by a public-private partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Infrastructure Development Partners. Infrastructure Development Partners is a collaboration between Deutsche Bank and Superior Construction. Superior Construction and Arcadis U.S. will design and construct this phase for $95 million. The work is expected to be completed by summer 2016.

In total, Phases One and Two will cost in the range of $163 million for roughly five miles of highway. A third phase, that will extend State Road 9B to Racetrack Road, currently remains unfunded. Plans for a Bass Pro Sports in St. Johns County are dependent on the third phase being constructed.

SR 9B Phase Two. Click to enlarge.

SR 9B - Phase One

After merging on to SR 9B Northbound, from Philips Highway, it’s a two-mile trip to access Interstate 295 East Beltway.

The Cross Road Bridge is located just south of Interstate 295 East Beltway. Before the first car had access to SR 9B, plans had already been announced for new commercial development at this location. In future years, don’t be surprised when this “isolated” bridge becomes a full fledged interchange.

While four lanes, SR 9B is already wide enough to accommodate an extra lane in each direction. As the road fills up with cars, this will save money in the long run.

SR 9B Northbound lanes approaching Interstate 295 East Beltway.

Merging with Interstate 295 East Beltway Northbound traffic.

SR 9B - Phase Two

Acres of trees have been removed to make room for a new interchange with SR 9B at Interstate 95.

Down trees expose a Bartram Park multifamily development near SR 9B’s future interchange with Interstate 95.

Philips Highway/FEC Railroad overpass under construction.

Noise walls are under construction behind the Flagler Station residential development.

Northbound on-ramp at US 1 (Philips Highway).

For more information: http://www.sr9b.com/sr9b/Phase1.aspx

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com