Hurricane evacuation and port traffic driving A1A investment

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Truck  traffic from the Port of Fernandina to I-95 is one of the factors in the widening of A1A in Nassau County.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is investing more than $120 million in construction dollars to widen State Road A1A between Interstate 95 and Amelia Island over the next few years.

Divided into three phases, the six-laning of A1A started in 2014 with the final phase scheduled to start in 2017. The second phase, from Rubin Davis Lane to O’Neill Scott Road, starts this month.

A construction open house is scheduled for Thursday, January 7 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Florida State College Nassau Campus, Bean Center, Nassau Room (T-126) at 76346 William Burgess Blvd, Yulee.

A1A serves as a critical hurricane evacuation route for the barrier island residents of Amelia Island and nearby Fernandina Beach.

A1A is also part of Florida’s Strategic Intermodal System because it connects the Port of Fernandina with I-95.

Consequently, this section of A1A carries a heavy volume of truck traffic. Trucks make up as much as 10 percent of the nearly 40,000 vehicles that travel A1A each day, according to the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization.

“Hurricane evacuation and port-to-interstate traffic make this a critical corridor and justifies the investment the state is making on these projects,” said Carrie Smithheart, a project administrator with England, Thims & Miller (ETM), which is providing construction management consultant services for FDOT on the project.

The final piece of the A1A puzzle is the widening from I-95 to Yulee, which will include a diverging diamond interchange (DDI), also called a double crossover diamond interchange.

In a DDI design, the two directions of traffic on the non-interstate road cross to the opposite side on both sides of the bridge at the interstate. It is unusual in that it requires traffic on the freeway overpass to briefly drive on the opposite side of the road from what is customary. The diverging diamond interchange was listed by Popular Science magazine as one of the best innovations in 2009.

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