The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) says it will begin construction in fiscal year 2022 on a new bridge over the St. Johns River as part of the First Coast Expressway project, a year earlier than previously scheduled.
The bridge is expected to cost $324 million and take about five years to complete.
FDOT says in a statement that the accelerated schedule was made possible by support from Gov. Ron DeSantis for a public-private partnership to fund the design-build project.
“The Department appreciates the Governor’s support for the First Coast Expressway and the opportunity to advance construction through a Public-Private Partnership,” said FDOT District Two Secretary Greg Evans.
“This important investment in our state’s infrastructure will add capacity to the crossing connecting St. Johns and Clay counties, provide additional clearance for boat traffic and improve emergency evacuations in North Florida while also enhancing safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.”
The bridge will be constructed just south of the existing two-lane Shands Bridge and will include four travel lanes as well as emergency shoulders and a multi-use pathway for bicyclists and pedestrians. The vertical clearance of the new bridge will be 65 feet from the water line, compared to the current 45-foot clearance.
The additional 20 feet will match the height of the Buckman Bridge and is expected to improve marine commerce in the region, the St. Augustine Record reports.
The First Coast Expressway project is the result of a partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation District 2 and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise.