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Construction problems cause scary commute during rush hour traffic

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Updated: 6/27/2013 6:35 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There were terrifying moments on one busy artery Thursday morning smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic.

Work on a $19.5 million construction project was forced to continue into peak travel time after crews ran into major issues getting the supplies they needed to finish the job.

One driver told Action News that bad call nearly cost him his life.

"That was, whew, that was dangerous," said Russell Deese.

Deese had no idea his trip to Georgia from Daytona Beach would leave him shaking.

"My heart's still beating," he said.

He and a buddy were headed home from a car auction when they ran out of gas on Interstate 95 near Baymeadows Road.

"So we go to the right get to the median where it's supposed to be safe. And that was the scariest time of my life," Deese said.

At the same time, construction delays were causing a massive backup.

"Normally how the process works, you close the lane, take out the defective section of concrete, put in new concrete, wait for it to dry and then open it up," explained Mike Goldman with the Department of Transportation.

Goldman said it's work that's typically done at night. But the plant providing the concrete broke down, leaving gaping holes in the road. Crews were left with no choice but to keep lanes blocked through rush hour, as a second plant mixed and then poured the needed concrete.

"We could not open up the lanes without it being cured property. If we would have opened it up at 6 a.m. it would have exposed drivers to damage and people to possible injuries," he said.

Deese was standing on the side of the interstate and saw several minor accidents because of the mess. He said one vehicle nearly hit them.

"They ought to not do construction during the day time, that is a fact. I mean, I don't care, (but) that was dangerous," he said.

Where were the officers to help direct traffic? Goldman told Action News they're only required to have officers in intersections during construction, not on the interstate.

"If there's an incident on the highway the message boards will flash," Goldman said.

Deese said that's hardly enough.

"Orange lights don't work. Blue lights, red lights, anything, because lives are at stake -- mine," he said.

Action News has learned that plant in question is shut down Thursday night for maintenance. They will investigate what went wrong. Construction will continue overnight Thursday into Friday, but they won't be pouring concrete.

Action News is told the contractor will be the one forced to pay for the goof.

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