• Crews testing Mandarin express lanes on I-295 before opening

    By: Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - If your commute takes you through Mandarin, that drive could soon get a whole lot easier, but also more expensive.

    Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole learned that some express lanes could soon be opening in that area.


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    But before you can use them, you’ll need a SunPass.

    Cole spoke to some people today to see what they think about the new changes coming to the roadway.

    If your commute includes hopping on the I-295 West Beltway, right now you might dread it.

    But soon the Florida Department of Transportation says that, soon, your commute will get better.

    An Action News Jax source first said Mandarin Express lanes are ready to open as soon as Saturday, but later today, said the opening was delayed.

    “They need it over there, I feel like!” said Julie Ledbetter.

    Ledbetter told Cole that, if the lanes will going to make the journey quicker, she likes them.

    “It could work out. You just have to give it a chance,” Ledbetter said.

    According to our Action News Jax source, crews are still testing it out.

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    FDOT sent video showing drivers how they’ll need to get on and off the express lanes.

    When the lanes are up and running, you’ll need a SunPass to use them.

    “The developers, when they came in , they added to the traffic problem. The developers should be the ones to pay for the roads, citizens who happen to just be driving though the area,” said William Deland.

    Deland told Cole that both he and his wife already have Sunpasses because they make trips to Orlando.

    Ledbetter told Cole she has one already, too.

    She uses her pass to visit her son who is in college in the  St. Petersburg-Tampa area.

    “Once they see how effective it is and how much easier it is, I think they'll adapt to it,” Ledbetter said.

    Action News Jax asked the FDOT if there will be a grace period for drivers to get their SunPass, and as of right now, the agency said, there will not be one.

    There’s a $25.00  fine for using the express lanes without a pass.

    The fine will only be waved until June 1.

    If you’re new to Florida and wondering where you can pick up your SunPass, just stop in at your nearest Publix or Walgreens.

    As soon as we learn the opening date of the express lanes, we will share that with you on the air, online and on our Action News Jax mobile app.

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