Traffic Cones and Travel Pains: Navigating Jax Construction


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Photo by Grace Singer

Amidst twisting stretches of interstates, intersections, medians and merge lanes, the city of Jacksonville seems to be one scattered in orange. Neon traffic cones, warning signs and flashing lights appear to have incorporated themselves as staples in the Jacksonville cultural landscape in recent years.

This recent influx of road construction projects has had a notable impact on travelers moving in and out the of Arlington area. Construction stretches out in a web like manner from the area, bearing down on the hearts, minds and gas tanks of commuter students and faculty alike.

“It’s slowed it down a lot and going anywhere after 7 p.m. is a hassle,” said sophomore commuter student David Bilbray.

There are approximately 27 road work projects under current construction in the Jacksonville area, according to a database on

Some of the closest construction areas to the campus are those impacting Merrill Road, Ft. Caroline Road and State Road 9A.  One construction area in particular of Ft. Caroline Road, part of the Better Jacksonville Plan, has been underway since late 2009 and will continue for an undetermined time past its projected end date of April 2012, according to an article in The Florida Times Union.  The road will be receiving updates such as upgraded drainage, lights, sidewalks and bike paths. Additionally, west of 9A , the road will be expanded from two lanes to three with a center turn lane.

“Despite a now pleasant and quick commute for the past month, the two or more years of construction seemed obnoxiously intrusive and slow for a 300 yard stretch of asphalt,” said sophomore commuter William MacIssac. “I commute from Arlington, just down the road. Pre-construction it took about ten minutes, during construction it took twenty minutes and now, post-construction, it takes me ten minutes again. It didn’t even ameliorate my commuting experience that much in the long run, but I live just a few miles away.”

For those headed a farther distance, construction still plays a role in many people’s commutes. A structural repair and repainting project on the Mathews Bridge is currently leading to nightly detours which impact those who travel west from the school. For those headed southeast, there is construction on Southside Boulevard. Traveling northeast, many commuters encounter construction on the Dames Point Bridge.

“When they were doing the Dames Point Bridge it added anywhere from 10-20 minutes to my daily commute,” said freshman commuter Eric Byrd. “Without the delays it would take me 40-45 minutes. You’re used to it in Jacksonville. It happens all the time. I’m a commuter; I have to commute, so I just deal.”

This is only one of a number of projects affecting SR-9A, others include resurfacing the pavement between Monument to St. Johns Bluff and installing an Intelligent Transportation System communication from Atlantic Blvd to I-95 North, according to records on the Florida Department of Transportation website.

Even further on down the roads, construction is also a notable occurrence on the Jacksonville portion of interstate roads I-10, I-95 and I-295, according to the FDOT website.

While the construction lining city roads inevitably leads to some honked horns, worn pedals and pulled hair, it is a necessary evil for the city. The quality of the infrastructure must be maintained and traffic patterns must be adapted for the safety of the changing populations.

In the meantime, the best that commuters can do is take a deep breath, let out a sigh and proceed with caution.

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