JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Practicing putt-putt with his son at the Mandarin Mill, Stuart Baxley is in the heart of the San Jose corridor. It’s an area of town that’s known less for a driving range and more as a parking lot.
"I hate going on San Jose. I'll take the back roads to avoid going on San Jose at all,” Baxley said.
When he does venture onto San Jose Boulevard, he says it’s often bumper to bumper.
With the congestion, local businesses say come the car crashes.
"We see quite a lot of accidents out here,” said Jason Lamoureux, an employee at the Mandarin Mill.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), more than 58,000 vehicles travel through that area every day. The number is up about 4,000 from just last year.
In an effort to ease congestion, FDOT is launching a new construction project starting August 19.
"What we're trying to do is make access to the centers easier. We're trying to improve the flow and we're trying to make it safer,” said FDOT spokesman Mike Goldman.
The plan, which extends along San Jose Blvd. from Claire Lane to Interstate 295, includes reconfiguring and closing median openings, reconstructing side streets and interstate ramps, extending turn lanes, and adding a traffic signal near Walmart.
All in all, it’s expected to take about a year to complete.
"The bottom line is it'll make conditions safer and easier to get through,” said Goldman.
But all Baxley hears is the short-term struggle that’s about to get started.
"It's going to make my commute, which is usually five minutes, turn into probably 15 just to get to work,” he said.
There will be periodic lane closures between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
FDOT is hosting a public information meeting about the project on Thursday, August 23 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the South Mandarin Regional Library.
But here are some of the project specifics:
The existing full median opening south of Claire Lane will be reconstructed to provide left turn movements for southbound and northbound vehicles only.
The existing median opening for southbound left turns located south of Claire Lane will be closed. This will allow the extension of the northbound left turn lane at Claire Lane.
A second left turn lane will be added on San Jose Blvd. for southbound vehicles turning east onto Claire Lane.
The full median opening located at Plummer Cove Road will be closed in order to extend the southbound left turn lane for the Mandarin Corners/Walmart Plaza and to accommodate an additional northbound turn lane for the left turn onto northbound I-295.
A new half signal will be added for the southbound San Jose Blvd. traffic at the entrance to the Mandarin Corners/Walmart Plaza.
A signalized u-turn lane will be added at the I-295 exit ramp for northbound vehicles to access Plummer Cove Road.
The southbound I-295 exit ramp will be modified to add a left turn lane.
The existing signs at Claire Lane, the I-295 southbound exit ramp and the I-295 northbound entrance ramp will be replaced.
A traffic separator will be installed along Claire Lane from San Jose Blvd. to near the driveway behind the Chili’s restaurant. Sidewalks will be added.