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Road construction begins soon on new toll road

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Updated: 9/05/2013 6:24 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville's new toll road will soon be taking shape. What was once known as the Outer Beltway is now called the First Coast Expressway. And the first phase of construction is set to begin this month.

Richard Huffaker lives in a neighborhood just off State Road 23, right along the future toll road. He's not opposed to it. He said, "If it'll take pressure off Brannan Field right now, I'm all for it."

He's already seeing construction and soon he'll see more. Work on phase one of the expressway starts this month.

You'll soon see new pavement, new intersections and new noise walls go up between I-10 and Argyle Forest Boulevard. You'll also see the construction of new automated toll facilities just South of New World Avenue.

Action News sat down with Florida Department of Transportation spokesman spokesman Mike Goldman Thursday. He said the agency has made no secret the toll road was coming. Signs have been up for years.

He said, "Let's be up front about this. The reason it's being built as a toll facility is that your traditional revenues just aren't there."

Goldman also said if people like Huffaker need to make a run to Walmart, he won't have to pay. He'll be able to use a series of free service roads being built right now.

Goldman said, "We wanted to get those service roads in place prior to the main line. So, there will be the road network for local traffic. They have a choice."

He said the exact amount of the toll has yet to be determined. And he said you won't have to pay it until the entire project is done in 2016 or 2017.

Huffaker says he's just anxious to see the end result.

He said, "I see them putting in the new road here, but I'm not sure where they're planning to put the toll at. I think there's probably quite a few people that's confused about it."

The DOT will be working to clear up that confusion. It's holding a public meeting Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the Cecil Commerce Center located at 12541 Lake Newman St. The meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. You can stop by any time. A public comment period will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Once the First Coast Expressway is complete, it will be a 45.5 mile toll road connecting Duval, Clay, and St. Johns counties. It's designed to relieve congestion on the inner beltway, or I-295.

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