Interstate 295 at San Jose Boulevard. Interstate 295 is will soon be a minimum of ten lanes between the Buckman Bridge and Interstate 95. Four lanes will be tolled using variable pricing based on congestion. Six lanes will be for general use (free).
Described as an “expressway-within-an-expressway”, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) began construction on a project to add express lanes on I-295 from I-95 to the Buckman Bridge in October 2014. Located along the inside median of the interstate, these new lanes will be tolled using variable pricing based on congestion.Toll rates will be based on the changing levels of traffic in the express lanes. Sensors alongside the road will monitor traffic levels and speed. Toll prices will be adjusted to maintain free-flowing traffic with a minimum target speed of 45 miles per hour in the express lanes. Since the project does not include the installation of toll booths or Toll-by-Plate options, all drivers using I-295’s new express lanes will need to use SunPass.
Traffic delineators are in the process of being installed to separate toll and general use lanes.
I-95 to the Buckman Bridge Project Overview
The express lanes construction along I-295 from I-95 to the Buckman Bridge began in July 2014. The design-build team of Dragados USA, Inc./TY Lin International were awarded the contract to design and construct the first express lanes in Northeast Florida for $89 million. Prior to the express lanes being constructed, noise walls will be built to lessen the potential noise of construction for residents along the cooridor.
The express lanes project includes:
- construction of two additional 12-foot travel lane (the tolled express lane) in each direction additional 12-foot travel lane (the tolled express lane) in each direction
- constructing noise walls along I-295 in various locations (as depicted in the map below)
- building drainage ponds
- installing electronic tolling systems at various locations to collect tolls
- With the construction of express lanes, this segment of I-295 will be ten lanes.
Access points will be located west of the San Jose Boulevard (SR 13) interchange and at the I-95 south interchange. Once in the express lanes, you will not be able to exit at San Jose Boulevard or Old St. Augustine Road. Traffic entering I-295 from San Jose Boulevard (SR 13) or from Old St. Augustine Road will not have access to the express lanes.
A noise analysis has been conducted for this section of I-295 to determine where noise impacts will occur and where noise abatement (walls) can be provided under FDOT and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rules.
The express lanes end approximately 1.5 miles prior to the flyover ramp to I-95 northbound. When exiting the express lanes, drivers will have to negotiate switching in lanes in the 12 lane section of I-295 to reach the I-95 northbound flyover.
Anticipated to be completed in Spring 2019, the $89 million expansion project is just an harbinger of what’s coming to Northeast Florida’s interstate system over the next few years. Between State Road 9B and J. Turner Butler Boulevard, a second express lane project is already underway on I-295. Starting construction in Summer 2016, that project is anticipated to be completed in late 2019.
Furthermore, in addition to the I-295 projects, FDOT is in the process of evaluating the addition of express lanes along I-95, from International Golf Parkway in St. Johns County to I-95/I-295 South Interchange and from J. Turner Butler Boulevard to the recently completed Overland Bridge project at Atlantic Boulevard in St. Nicholas. Future segments could include I-95 from I-95/I-295 South Interchange to J. Turner Butler Boulevard and I-295 from J. Turner Butler Boulevard to the Dames Point Bridge.
Map identifying all express lane projects proposed in Northeast Florida. (FDOT)
Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at firstname.lastname@example.org