JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Drivers taking the newly opened diverging diamond interchange on San Pablo Road at J. Turner Butler Boulevard had a relatively smooth commute Monday morning.
It's the first diverging diamond interchange in Duval County.
During rush hour, there was a traffic backup from Mayo Clinic to JTB due to several new traffic lights for drivers turning onto I-95 toward Downtown. First Coast News reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation asking if the construction still underway there will create more lanes for traffic.
FDOT's spokesperson says there will be additional capacity once construction is completed. They expect that to be in the summer. The spokesperson says there is still a "substantial amount of work to do," including additional curb installation, paving and stripping.
First Coast News also asked FDOT about the traffic lights. During a live shot for Good Morning Jacksonville, a traffic light timed out at about six minutes heading from Residence Inn toward JTB.
FDOT's spokesperson says the project team is still adjusting the signal timing so that the direction with the heaviest traffic gets the green light for a longer period of time. She says this adjustment period could take a few days, but once construction is complete, drivers will "experience reduced congestion and shorter wait times as well as enhanced safety, which are just a few of the benefits of the DDI design."
She also says FDOT uses signal loop detection devices, which detect when vehicles are waiting.
Many viewers on Facebook are chiming in about their thoughts on the new traffic pattern. Some are worried from looking at pictures, saying it could be a mess. Others say it isn't a big deal, that they've driven through them before and that the diverging diamond makes traffic run smoothly.
As of 5 a.m., there are now fewer orange cones and a new traffic pattern at JTB and San Pablo Road. Florida Department of Transportation officials advise being alert and following the signs.
FDOT reports the diverging diamond traffic pattern can cut the number of crashes in half. That's partly because there are fewer left turns. This traffic pattern takes you on the opposite side of the road.
Another goal besides fewer crashes is to avoid traffic backed up onto I-95.
There is a diverging diamond interchange along I-95 and Route 200 in Nassau County. FDOT has plans to put diverging diamonds at several other spots along I-95 in Duval County.
Read more about the $12 million project here.
Watch a First Coast News story from earlier in the construction here.