Traffic on a portion of Beaver Street will be shifting to a new configuration this week as the Overland Bridge Project continues throughout Jacksonville. Workers will be installing a barrier wall for the project, shifting eastbound and westbound traffic to the south and north sides of the street respectively. The project could heavily affect commuters who are trying to reach I-95, I-295, and other parts of the city.
The $9.2 million project, led by the Florida Department of Transportation, includes pavement reconstruction and resurfacing, replacement of sidewalks on either side of the street, replacement of drainage pipes under the road, and widening travel lanes from 10 feet to 11 along the mile stretch between McDuff Avenue and Stockton Street.
So how will the project, slated for completion in the spring of 2017, affect drivers and their commute in the Jacksonville area?
Unfamiliar Routes Could Lead to Familiar Problems
Reducing Beaver Street to a single lane in each direction might cause heavy congestion and delays for drivers. Because FDOT claims closures will remain in effect 24-hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, drivers may seek an alternate route to reach McDuff Avenue or I-95 to the east.
This could push traffic into the residential streets just north and south of the busy road. This could put drivers in the area at a higher risk for accidents, especially those who are unfamiliar with these back roads.
For example, drivers who don’t normally take these roads may be unaware of Westbrook Park, a recreational area in the neighborhood. Drivers should take extra precaution and especially be on the lookout for children who could dart out into the street. According to a 2013 study conducted by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, of the 4,735 recorded pedestrian traffic-related incidents, 236 of those were children who died in such accidents.
If you are looking to use these roads as a detour from the construction, it may be a good idea to get to know the nature of areas through which your detour runs.
As construction and road closures continue along Beaver, it is likely that congestion will be a problem for some drivers commuting through the area.
Bumper-to-bumper traffic and slower speed limits could be frustrating for the average driver, so being aware of your surroundings is important.
The National Transportation Safety Board estimates there are 1.7 million rear-end collisions on U.S. roads every year, resulting in thousands of injuries and even deaths. Furthermore, the NHTSA found that 87 percent of rear-end collisions happened because a driver was not paying attention to the road.
Slower speed limits and congestion should be no excuse for distracted driving.
AAA recommends drivers put away all cell phones and electronic devices, refrain from playing with a vehicle’s entertainment and temperature systems, and ignore passengers who may be distracting you.
If an emergency situation arises or you must answer your phone, pull over and handle the situation away from traffic. This, or simply keeping your eyes on the road at all times will help to get you and your family to your destination safely.
The Overland Bridge Project will help alleviate traffic woes that many Jacksonville drivers face on a daily basis. But until it is completed, a variety of accidents can still occur on the road.