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Will you pay to drive on new express lanes?
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Will you pay to drive on new express lanes?

Will you pay to drive on new express lanes?
Photo Credit: Trafficland.com
A look at Interstate 295 in Mandarin. FDOT will be expanding three portions of the road in a project that will last until 2016 the least.

Will you pay to drive on new express lanes?

How might your daily commute change if you have to start paying to use new express lanes on the I-295 Beltway?

The second phase of plans to build tolled express lanes on the East Beltway is kicking off before ground is even broken on the initial tolled express lane for the West Beltway. 

The Florida Department of Transportation is holding their first informational session of the second phase plans tonight at UNF.

The plan would add a tolled express lane in each direction of I-295 between State Road 9B and JTB. The lane has a specific access point and exit point, and will not be accessible from normal lanes of travel on the highway itself.

“People can use the express lanes if they want, they don’t have to,” says FDOT Spokeswoman Gina Busscher.

If you choose to use the express lanes, you will have to pay a toll that will fluctuate through the day depending on congestion on the special lane as well as on I-295.  WOKV has learned that toll will be at least 50 cents, and could be as high as several dollars.

If you choose to drive the existing lanes of the Beltway, you will not be charged any toll.

There have been several open houses and meetings regarding the first phase already, which adds a lane in each direction of the Beltway between the Buckman Bridge and I-95. Busscher says they immediately implemented some changes based on feedback they received.

“The majority of feedback that we got on the first project was about additional noise, and we are putting in some noise walls,” she says.

Overall, however, Busscher says the project has not garnered much public feedback.

If you have questions or concerns, tonight's open house will be from 4:30-6:30 at the University Center at UNF.

Following the open house, there is a presentation and public comment portion.  If you cannot make the meeting, but want to learn more or submit feedback, you can visit the FDOT website dedicated to this project.

Construction on the first phase of the express lanes begins later this year and costs $247 million. Construction on the second phase begins in 2015 and costs $155 million. The third and final phase of  this project will be lanes on the Beltway between the Dames Point Bridge and I-95.

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