Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

2 Roadways Nearly Ready in Southside; Southbound 9A between Atlantic and Beach and I-95 Interchange in Mandarin Will Open This Month

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

2 Roadways Nearly Ready in Southside; Southbound 9A between Atlantic and Beach and I-95 Interchange in Mandarin Will Open This Month

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein, The Times-Union

Two Jacksonville highway projects will open for traffic this month, giving road warriors and back-to-schoolers on the Southside and Mandarin some new ways to save time.

Florida Department of Transportation officials hope to open Florida 9A between Atlantic and Beach boulevards to southbound drivers on Sunday. But northbound motorists will have to wait until September before they can travel that part of 9A.

Florida 9A is being built in pieces through the Southside and will join Interstate 295 to form a loop around Jacksonville in 2006.

The second highway project opening in August will be a new interchange on Interstate 95 at St. Augustine Road in Mandarin. The interchange will open in mid-August after federal highway officials sign off, according to Flagler Development Co., which is paying for the $22 million project.

"For all intents and purposes, it's complete, but it does have to pass final inspection," said Flagler Development spokeswoman Rosemary Jackson.

Construction crews are still working this week on 9A between Atlantic and Beach boulevards. Rainy weather could stall progress on the $26.7 million job, said Mike Goldman, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

Steve Crandall, who lives in Arlington and commutes to work at a travel agency on Beach Boulevard, said the upcoming 9A opening will be a welcome alternative to St. Johns Bluff Road. He said traffic lights on St. Johns Bluff Road back up drivers even when few, if any, motorists are entering from side streets. In contrast, 9A is being built as a highway with overpasses over other roads, eliminating the need for traffic signals.

"It's always excruciating on St. Johns Bluff Road because of the light situation and all the extra traffic," Crandall said. He added, "I'm looking forward to never seeing St. Johns Bluff Road again."

That farewell to St. Johns Bluff Road will take a month longer for northbound drivers. The sticking point is construction of an overpass where 9A will cross over St. Johns Bluff Road just south of Atlantic Boulevard. The state expects to finish the overpass for southbound traffic by Sunday, but construction for northbound lanes will continue until September. …

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