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$78 million fix announced for I-95 and JTB interchange

More road construction is headed to the Southside. Today, Governor Rick Scott, along with Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Ananth Prasad, announced an additional $78 million project to improve the safety and mobility on Interstate 95 and J. Turner Butler Boulevard. This funding is included in Governor Scott's Florida Families First Budget that he unveiled last month.

Published February 19, 2013 in Transit      31 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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Governor Scott said, “This $78 million investment means families will be safer, businesses will be able to save money and move goods faster, and Florida families won’t spend nearly as much time in traffic. The great news is this funding came about as result of efficiencies by the Department of Transportation. This project could essentially save lives as it improves access for those trying to reach St. Vincent’s Medical Center Southside and the Mayo Clinic. For the 24,000 drivers who have an excessive wait time to get off I-95 every afternoon this will improve their commute so they can spend more quality time at home with their families, and less time on the road.”
 
The $78 million investment will focus on three primary improvements. First, FDOT will construct a flyover ramp for I-95 southbound traffic heading east onto Butler Boulevard to provide a free flowing direct connection to JTB. Second, an overpass is going to be constructed for JTB westbound traffic to pass over the westbound traffic from Belfort Road. This overpass will eliminate the merging conflicts and reduce congestion at Belfort Road.  Third, FDOT will reconstruct the I-95 northbound off-ramp. The reconstructed ramp will provide direct access to westbound JTB from I-95 northbound. This movement is currently prohibited.


 
FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said, “Governor Scott’s transportation budget fully funds the department’s improvements which will increase capacity, reduce congestion and create private-sector jobs. I applaud Governor Scott’s continued focus on funding strategic transportation investments which strengthens our economy and lowers the cost of living for Florida’s families.”
 
Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown said, "We appreciate the Governor's investment in Jacksonville. The I-95 / JTB intersection is a challenge for too many of our citizens, and I'm glad the Governor has prioritized this project in his budget. By relieving congestion, we'll make commutes safer and enhance commerce."
 
Senator Aaron Bean said, “Relieving congestion at I-95 and JTB is critical for public safety and the movement of goods for the Jacksonville area - and I'm glad the Scott Administration took the much needed steps to speed up this project.”  
 
Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said, “The Governor's investment in the Jacksonville area is a real testament to our growing economic strength. There's a lot of traffic on I-95 and JTB, and the Governor's commitment of tens of millions will provide much needed relief to the area. That's great news for our businesses and communities that rely on these routes."

source: Florida Department of Transportation







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31 Comments

copperfiend

February 19, 2013, 01:38:43 PM
Thank god. Long overdue.

tufsu1

February 19, 2013, 02:15:44 PM
oh boy...I'm so excited!!!!

dougskiles

February 19, 2013, 02:37:34 PM
This is one road project I can live with, and is overdue.  I can't say the same about some of the others they are cooking up...

The question is - will this become part of the "Lexus Lane" system?  I wouldn't mind seeing that either.  Keep the existing interchange for those who don't want to pay and allow the flyover for those who do.

thelakelander

February 19, 2013, 02:48:02 PM
I can live with this one as well, although I still believe there should be a bike/ped component to offer the possibility of connecting both sides of I-95 in Southpoint. I hope it's toll so it will at least get the taxpayer some form of ROI. This was the old $125 million JTA plan.  It sounds like the state's $78 million plan might be somewhat different.


fsujax

February 19, 2013, 03:27:43 PM
it's a scaled down version of the JTA designed one.

cline

February 19, 2013, 03:46:26 PM
I can live with this one as well, although I still believe there should be a bike/ped component to offer the possibility of connecting both sides of I-95 in Southpoint. I hope it's toll so it will at least get the taxpayer some form of ROI. This was the old $125 million JTA plan.  It sounds like the state's $78 million plan might be somewhat different.




Do we know if there is any sort of bike/ped component?

peestandingup

February 19, 2013, 04:19:00 PM
Yeah, but how in the world will it make money?? ;)

thelakelander

February 19, 2013, 05:35:05 PM
Do we know if there is any sort of bike/ped component?

Doubt it.  It's a watered down version of JTA's plan and JTA's plan did not include a bike/ped component.

thelakelander

February 19, 2013, 07:41:17 PM
Here's FDOT's plan for the I-95/JTB interchange:

spuwho

February 19, 2013, 08:06:20 PM
This is an incremental update, not the full replacement JTA sought. At least they will have something in the pipeline when they start the I-95 redux between University and I-295.  It deals with the two safety issues highest.  It would be a great step if they could find a few $$ for some pedestrian access. This exit is ringed with business and hotels in 3 of the quadrants, with food services in the fourth. Prime candidate for a pedestrian friendly ring.

Seraphs

February 19, 2013, 09:29:40 PM
Over due!

tufsu1

February 19, 2013, 09:44:26 PM
The question is - will this become part of the "Lexus Lane" system?  I wouldn't mind seeing that either.  Keep the existing interchange for those who don't want to pay and allow the flyover for those who do.

the answer is no...apparently because neither I-95 or JTB are currently tolled....awesome logic!

fieldafm

February 19, 2013, 10:15:40 PM
This interchange upgrade is needed, but i don't understand why the tolled flyover was abandoned.  When Prassad sat down with the Times Union Editorial Board... he was adamant that tolls were the only way these projects made financial sense going forward in a new permanent era of limited transportation funds.  What changed b/w now and then?  A toll could partially offset maintenance costs and could payoff debt service for a pedestrian connection.  If they spend money on palm trees here, they could just as easily spend money instead on such multi-modal capacity.

tufsu1

February 19, 2013, 10:20:51 PM
Prasad has also said that all new interstate capacity and bridges would be strongly considered for tolls...and yet the $400 million I-75 widening north of Tampa and the $600 million replacement bridge on US 98 over Pensacola Bridge will be free

JFman00

February 20, 2013, 12:04:35 AM
Here's FDOT's plan for the I-95/JTB interchange:



I don't disagree that it's a valuable and justifiable improvement, but $78 million is an unconscionable amount of money for it. Until we can figure out what drives our costs so high, I think infrastructure activists of all stripes are going to be fighting an uphill battle. Any guesses how how long this will take and how expensive it'll actually be?

Ralph W

February 20, 2013, 12:43:04 AM
With fuel prices climbing daily, no one would notice if a couple pennies tax was added in to pay for these projects and add to the kitty for future maintenance. Take a lesson from Congress and tack on an obscure amendment to an under the radar bill.

vicupstate

February 20, 2013, 05:12:57 AM
Quote
I don't disagree that it's a valuable and justifiable improvement, but $78 million is an unconscionable amount of money for it. Until we can figure out what drives our costs so high, I think infrastructure activists of all stripes are going to be fighting an uphill battle. Any guesses how how long this will take and how expensive it'll actually be?

As long as the money is going to highways , then no amount is too much.  And even the most diehard tea partier will not question it. It prompts sprawl at the expense of already developed areas, so all politicos of all stripes will do whatever is necessary to accomplish it. 

fsujax

February 20, 2013, 07:54:30 AM
guess that answers Cline's questions about sidewalks, bike lanes and a multi-use path. FDOT says no.

Dapperdan

February 20, 2013, 08:25:49 AM
Was JTB at some point supposed to cross the river? That whole setup just seems odd.

fsujax

February 20, 2013, 08:27:51 AM
^^Yes. Was suppose to connect to Timuquana Rd/103rd St.

I-10east

February 20, 2013, 09:18:07 AM
*Que the obligatory misunderstood "this money would be better spent on (either) the homeless, urban infrastructure, mass transit, or our public schools" post*

Bewler

February 20, 2013, 09:57:13 AM
This is an incremental update, not the full replacement JTA sought. At least they will have something in the pipeline when they start the I-95 redux between University and I-295.  It deals with the two safety issues highest.  It would be a great step if they could find a few $$ for some pedestrian access. This exit is ringed with business and hotels in 3 of the quadrants, with food services in the fourth. Prime candidate for a pedestrian friendly ring.

I guess an incremental update is better than nothing. This exit has been a mess for years. The only thing I don't really understand is why everyone wants pedestrian access. Have you been over there lately? There is virtually no one walking around the JTB/95 commercial area. And it not exactly a heavily residential location either.

thelakelander

February 20, 2013, 10:22:48 AM
Ever wonder why no one walks around there?  My guess would be it's probably the same reason you don't see as many people bicycling on Southside Boulevard as there probably would, giving that area's population density. Do a simple experiment by getting out of your car and hitting the shoulder on foot to get an accurate feeling on the risk you place your life in and you'll quickly figure out why.

When I speak of improving pedestrian/bicycle connections, I'm coming from a point-of-view that looks at the landscape and transportation infrastructure long term.  Like similar suburban business districts across the country, that area will continue to densify in the future and if JTA adds BRT and commuter rail, what good is a station or TOD there if you can't even get across I-95 to access the mix of uses on either side of it? 

This graphic is a future visual representation of this area by the community that lives in the vicinity of this project.  At what point do you start designing future projects to help achieve this vision?



Bewler

February 20, 2013, 10:49:01 AM
Yeah but it's not a primarily residential area. You wouldn't be connecting neighborhoods, you would be connecting McDonalds with Cracker Barrel. I understand you're talking long term though, I guess I just have a hard time picturing the area ever becoming much of a suburban business district. It seems like it's mainly just going to be business/commercial.

thelakelander

February 20, 2013, 11:10:01 AM
In recent years there have been thousands of multifamily units added on both sides of I-95 in that area and there's already hundreds of thousands of square footage in office and commercial use.  Here are a few pics:





There's also a ton of more land available for infill of all kinds.  Also, the average trip length of a cyclist in Florida is 1.92 miles.  It's 0.66 miles for a pedestrian.  Using center of the interchange, if you drew a 1.92 mile radius from that point, you'll hit a lot more than McDonalds, Chick-Fil-A, and Wendy's. The infrastructure and land use policy we invest in will play a significant role on what type of future infill occurs.....totally autocentric or multimodal compatible.  Multimodal compatible tends to generate higher returns to the tax rolls than autocentric. 

Furthermore, even if the area was 100% commercial, connectivity should still be desired if we're going to invest in transit to serve the area.  Stronger multimodal connectivity will create an opportunity where one could reside in the Northside, Downtown, Jax Beach, etc. and commute to this district instead of being forced to drive on JTB or I-95.  Money saved per household choosing to do so becomes more disposable income that supports local businesses. By diverting a portion of auto trips to other modes, you also reduce the need to invest additional billions in widening I-95 and JTB at some distant point in the future. Ultimately, we have complete control over what these areas become in the future.  At some point, if we want our vision plans to become reality, we'll have to actually attempt to implement them.

Bewler

February 20, 2013, 11:16:44 AM
Very true. I guess if nothing else it couldn't hurt. I mean how much extra does it really cost to modify the tons of concrete we're already going to be adding to accommodate a few pedestrians and bicyclists?

thelakelander

February 20, 2013, 11:40:41 AM
I don't believe you would have to modify the flyovers.  You would want these modes physically separated from each other.  I suspect a completely separate pedestrian overpass over I-95 somewhere in the vicinity of this interchange would run you somewhere between $1 - $3 million, depending on the design.  Before someone claims that too expensive, we're currently spending $78 million to address movement on only one mode and we recently spent $2 million to landscape the JTB/I-295 East Beltway interchange.  I for one could do with less palm trees and mulch if such funds could be redirected to improving other modes, saving lives and enhancing mobility in the process.

PeeJayEss

February 21, 2013, 08:57:39 AM
Prasad has also said that all new interstate capacity and bridges would be strongly considered for tolls...and yet the $400 million I-75 widening north of Tampa and the $600 million replacement bridge on US 98 over Pensacola Bridge will be free

Doesn't mean they didn't strongly consider tolls for those projects.

tufsu1

February 21, 2013, 09:54:48 AM
yes...but I think he's backing off this plan for now because the Governor is seeing just how unpopular the idea of tolls is (whether right or wrong)....all these announcements are being set up to raise Scott's approval ratings before 2014 and to garner campaign contributions

stephendare

February 21, 2013, 09:58:39 AM
yes...but I think he's backing off this plan for now because the Governor is seeing just how unpopular the idea of tolls is (whether right or wrong)....all these announcements are being set up to raise Scott's approval ratings before 2014 and to garner campaign contributions

Which you can bet is the direct result of Adam Hollingsworth having gone to the administration recently.

Ocklawaha

February 21, 2013, 01:35:34 PM

It's not like a simple solution for bikes and pedestrians to get under the FREEway is all that hard or expensive to figure out. Palatka and CSX came up with a dandy solution. These types of under-crossing's are used extensively in the west, farm roads by the hundreds duck through steel pipe, in Tumcumcarri New Mexico, the old Rock Island Railroad mainline went through one. Considering the financial shape 'The Rock' was in when the FREEway came along, this is no doubt the cheapest solution.

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