JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Another big change is coming for Jacksonville drivers on Interstate 95.
Newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 southbound, just after the Fuller Warren Bridge, are slated to open this weekend. With the opening of those lanes comes a big change in the traffic pattern, because there will be a decision point at the base of the bridge where you’ll commit to going either to the Southside, to U.S. 1 or to Atlantic Boulevard.
For I-95 southbound drivers who are heading to the Southside, not much will change. You will take I-95 south over the bridge and keep driving straight, but traffic will now connect to three newly rebuilt lanes of the highway. If you stay on that main stretch of I-95, there will be no option to exit until Emerson Street.
After the new lanes open and the traffic shift takes effect, the lanes that you are currently driving on will become collector-distributor lanes, meaning they will collect limited traffic and only provide exits for a few select routes.
For drivers leaving Downtown on the Main Street Bridge or Acosta Bridge, not much will change. You will drive on the lanes that are currently being used, but the difference is that those lanes will eventually connect to the new I-95, whereas now the lanes simply become I-95.
I-95 southbound drivers who want to take U.S. 1 or Atlantic Boulevard will need to exit at the base of the Fuller Warren Bridge. There will be a new exit lane on the right, just after the San Marco exit, which will ultimately connect you to the lanes that we’re driving on now. Once you’re connected, the traffic pattern continues as you know it now, with the exit to Atlantic Boulevard on the left and to Philips Highway on the right.
While the Florida Department of Transportation is only opening one exit lane from I-95 southbound to U.S. 1 and Atlantic Boulevard at this stage, it will open a second lane later in the project.
FDOT said the change is set to be in effect Saturday at 8 p.m. Preparatory work will begin Friday night, although there is no clear word at this point about what kind of lane closures, if any, you should expect. The opening of the new lanes is subject to the weather.
This process is similar to what FDOT did on I-95 northbound in the same area. Back in October, newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 northbound opened, and the lanes that had been used during the construction became designated only for Downtown traffic. As it stands, if you want to get to the Main Street Bridge, the Acosta Bridge, or Prudential Drive, you have to exit just north of Emerson Street. If you do not exit, the highway will carry you straight over the Fuller Warren Bridge.
The overall project, known as the I-95 Overland Bridge Replacement Project, is slated to be completed in the spring. It’s aim is to improve the flow of traffic by adding more lanes, while reducing the amount of weaving and lane changing by providing designated lanes. FDOT said it will have signage to help drivers with the changes, and it is asking drivers to use caution as they get used to the changes.
You can get more information on the FDOT project website.
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