Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Around the County

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Around the County

Article excerpt

No toll for crossing the St. Johns at Shands

Motorists living near the Shands Bridge or who travel it locally will not pay a toll to get across the St. Johns River when the First Coast Outer Beltway is built.

The two-lane, 40-foot-high Shands Bridge will be torn down and replaced by a new six-lane, 65-foot-high bridge that will be part of the 46.5-mile toll road that will connect Interstate 10 in Duval County with Interstate 95 in St. Johns County. The new bridge will be just south of the existing Shands Bridge.

Residents along the planned roadway have complained about losing the Shands Bridge and having to pay a toll to cross its replacement.

"The Shands Bridge is a perfectly good bridge," said Green Cove Springs resident Eugene Kirker. "Green Cove Springs residents will not benefit from this."

Larry Parks, director of planning for the Florida Department of Transportation, said those complaints have been heard, and the department told The Times-Union on June 3 that residents will not be assessed a toll provided they get on the beltway right before the bridge and get off at the first exit after.

The exit east of the bridge will be on Country Road 16A. The westbound exit will be on U.S. 17.

Cars will still need to have a transponder that will electronically note where they got on and off the beltway. In lieu of pay toll booths, the transponder is designed to electronically debit motorists.

Green Cove Springs resident Curt Kinder said it will be easier to accept the Outer Beltway with this change.

"Tolls could have ended up costing up to $1,000 a year, so this is good news," Kinder said.

It is not yet clear when construction on the beltway will begin. The process of hiring a private partner that will build and maintain it has begun, but that will take at least a year.

The old bridge will remain open until the new one is built.

ST. AUGUSTINE SEWAGE PIPE REPAIRED AFTER BREAK

Repairs on an iron sewage pipe running under the San Sebastian River are completed, according to City of St. Augustine officials.

"We finished the repair (June 2) around 9 p. …

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