Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County OKs 2 More Lanes for U.S. 17; Additions for Eastbound, Westbound Ramps

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County OKs 2 More Lanes for U.S. 17; Additions for Eastbound, Westbound Ramps

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

Relief of daily traffic congestion at the U.S. 17 and Interstate 295 interchange is in the works and could be under way in a few years.

The Clay County Commission has signed off on a state transportation plan to add two lanes to northbound U.S. 17 from the Orange Park Kennel Club, just south of Wells Road, to the eastbound interstate on-ramp.

One of the lanes will be dedicated to northbound traffic headed to that eastbound on-ramp, the other for northbound traffic headed for the westbound on-ramp farther north, just past the I-295 overpass, said Commissioner Patrick McGovern.

The project will be added to the state Department of Transportation's five-year road improvement plan, but county officials hope construction will be accelerated because it is being funded by the developer of Fleming Island Plantation, rather than the DOT.

The plan for two new lanes was the result of a DOT consultant's study, which showed that the destination of northbound traffic headed for I-295 was "almost equally split" between the eastbound and westbound ramps, McGovern said.

County officials had thought more traffic was headed toward eastbound I-295 than the westbound ramp, he said. That's why they had lobbied the DOT to ease traffic bottlenecks in the area by adding two lanes to the eastbound ramp itself.

But the study done by URS Inc., the DOT consultant, said otherwise and recommended the two new northbound lanes for U.S. 17.

"That's a better solution," McGovern said.

The additional northbound lanes will not only help ease congestion, but also reduce the "weaving in and out" that occurs now as drivers jostle to get to their on-ramp of choice, he said.

The plan also calls for the closure of the median opening on southbound U.S. 17 to the east side of Eldridge Avenue. …

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