Lighter traffic means FDOT projects accelerate

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  • A diagram of the diverging diamond interchange under construction at the intersection of Interstate 95 and State Road 200. FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
    A diagram of the diverging diamond interchange under construction at the intersection of Interstate 95 and State Road 200. FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
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During his April 1 news conference announcing a 30-day “Safer-at-Home” executive order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would take advantage of the lighter traffic on Florida roads to expedite several Florida Department of Transportation construction projects.

One of those projects is the new diverging diamond interchange – DDI – for I-95/S.R. 200, according to FDOT.

Area residents have often despaired that the State Road 200 construction that’s been underway for several years between Fernandina Beach and Interstate 95 will go on forever, but in the case of the interchange, the timeline might be short of that.

According to FDOT, there are two separate projects: road widening and improvement of S.R. 200 between U.S. 17 and the Thomas J. Shave Jr. Bridge, and the interchange.

Tracy Hisler-Pace, District 2 communications manager for the department, said crews are working additional hours with longer lane closures along the S.R. 200 corridor at I-95 in an effort to accelerate completion of the DDI by up to two months, weather and unforeseen circumstances permitting.

“These new accelerations or enhancements include longer nighttime shoulder closures on I-95, longer nighttime lane closures on I-95 southbound Sunday through Tuesday, and longer daytime State Road 200 westbound lane closures,” Hisler-Pace told the News-Leader in an email. “The enhanced nighttime hours will allow more work to be completed with minimal additional impacts on businesses, and longer work hours on State Road 200 during the day will minimize impacts on Wildlight Elementary School when students return to class.”

Hampton Ray, an FDOT District 2 spokesman, said crews are always working, even if construction sometimes appears to be making little or no progress.

“The frustration is understandable, but crews are working continuously on peripheral parts of the projects, such as drainage and utility work,” Ray said.

jroberts@fbnewsleader.com