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Jax Daily Record Friday, Apr. 3, 202003:10 PM EST

Detours for Hart Bridge Expressway ramps demolition begin April 4

The project is expected to disrupt traffic for about 18 months.  
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The $25.4 million demolition of the overhead Hart Bridge Expressway ramps near TIAA Bank Field will begin next week, a city spokesperson said April 2. 

Traffic detours will begin April 4 for Hart Bridge commuters in and out of Downtown.

The roughly 18 months of traffic disruption is meant to support Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s estimated $2.5 billion redevelopment of the Shipyards properties and Lot J near the stadium and Metropolitan Park. 

The project calls for removing part of the Hart Bridge ramp at Liberty Street between Gator Bowl and A. Philip Randolph boulevards, bringing a portion of the expressway to street level and aligning the new roadway.

Construction of a signalized intersection at Gator Bowl Boulevard is part of the project.

The route

According to the city Department of Public works, northbound traffic into Downtown across the Hart Bridge will be directed to exit to East Duval Street and turn left. 

Vehicles then will turn left onto Gator Bowl Boulevard and go around the stadium, continue westbound onto East Bay Street, and then turn right onto North Liberty Street. 

Drivers coming from Downtown eastbound on East Forsyth Street and East Monroe Street will turn right onto North Liberty Street then left onto East Bay Street.

 Vehicles will continue eastbound onto Gator Bowl Boulevard and go around the stadium. Turn right onto East Duval Street and then right onto the ramp leading to the Hart Bridge.

In an April 3 email, city Assistant Director of Public Affairs James Croft said the detour is scheduled to be modified this fall and be completely removed by the end of 2021. The detour schedule could change, depending on weather conditions and any other unforeseen conditions.

Croft said Public Works has coordinated with the federal COVID-19 testing-site team at Lot J and does not anticipate traffic flow impact. 

Nearly 3,000 people have been tested at the drive-thru site. 

An alternate plan has been developed with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office if issues occur, he said. 

Project contractor J.B. Coxwell will not implode any portion of the ramps and it plans to use heavy machinery to bring down the structure, Croft said.

City Council appropriated $12.46 million of Florida Department of Transportation grant funds toward the $38.9 million project.

The remainder of the money comes from a $12.5 million federal transportation grant, $12.5 million from city borrowed funds and $1.5 million transferred from other city projects.

The city’s General Government Awards Committee awarded the low bid to demolish the bridge Jan. 23.

Lot J development

Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration announced a proposed $233.3 million total city investment in Khan’s Lot J project  July 31, before COVID-19.

That includes $208 million toward the development of the Live! Arena, infrastructure improvements and a development grant.

City officials have not addressed how unbudgeted spending for the COVID-19 response, including a $20 million to $30 million small business emergency loan program with VyStar Credit Union, will impact projects with city financial backing. 

Curry said in his April 2 new conference that future city budgets will reprioritize spending to focus on services and essential needs.

“But the budgets in the years ahead are going to be incredibly difficult,” Curry said. “If all this ended right now, the budgets in the years ahead while I’m in office for sure are going to be very difficult, with difficult choices and reprioritizing things.” 

Baltimore, Maryland-based The Cordish Companies and Jaguars’ subsidiary Gecko Investments LLC are equal partners in the Lot J-Shipyards project, operating as Jacksonville I-C Parcel One Holding Company LLC, according to the term sheet released by the city.

Zed Smith, chief operating officer of Cordish, said March 2 that crews were expected to begin environmental remediation at Lot J by summer, with vertical construction possible by June 2021.

A final development agreement and incentive package has not been released. The deal will need approval from the Downtown Investment Authority board and City Council before the project can break ground.

The detours


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