JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With any growing city comes the traffic.
Jacksonville’s I-295 beltway is no exception.
The I-295 East Beltway express lanes finally opened up Saturday, stretching from State Road 9B to J. Turner Butler Blvd.
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Action News Jax spoke with local driver Patricia Baden.
“If I’m in a hurry, I’m going to take it,” Baden said. “If I’m not, I’m just going to ride the regular one.”
The Florida Department of Transportation added two 12-foot travel lanes in each direction to help improve the congestion.
“In-town traffic is getting terrible, especially 295,” Baden said. “In the morning time, you can see it backed up. I wouldn’t want to be in that traffic.”
Action News Jax Traffic Expert Marcine Joseph spoke to FDOT this past week to break down what you can expect.
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According to FDOT, this $139 million project began back in the spring of 2016.
FDOT hoped to have all the construction done by last fall but the project was delayed because of cold weather and the addition of an extra general purpose lane.
To travel southbound, drivers will have to enter the express lanes at JTB, and, to travel northbound, drivers will have to enter the express lanes from State Road 9B at E-Town.
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Right now, you can only exit off 9B, not onto the beltway. FDOT hopes to complete that exit ramp within three to six months.
Drivers will only be charged during peak times, which are between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The express lane tolls will be free on weekends and holidays.
“If you’re going out of town or going somewhere on vacation that’s a trip, that’s worth the toll if you ask me,” Baden said. “Just so you don’t have to deal with in-town traffic.”
Drivers who plan to use the express lanes can either use a SunPass, E-PASS or pay by plate.
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