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Area’s First I-95 'Diverging Diamond' Interchange Opens

Diverging diamond interchange
This enhanced satellite image illustrates the diverging diamond interchange that is scheduled to open Sunday in Nassau County.

A new $41 million highway interchange, a first of its kind on the First Coast, is scheduled to open this weekend in Nassau County at I-95 and State Road 200/A1A. It's called a "diverging diamond."

Credit FDOT
Westbound detour map.

Motorists in the area will face detours Saturday night as striping is completed. Both directions of State Road 200/A1A underneath I-95 will be closed beginning at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, through 7 a.m. Sunday, Nov.15. Drivers on S.R. 200 will be detoured to I-95 during the closure. 

Sunday morning single lanes will open. Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Hampton Ray told WJCT News Friday that all lanes are expected to be open by the end of the day on Sunday.

Credit FDOT
Eastbound detour map

“So as drivers get back to work on Monday, folks are going, dropping their kids off at school, things like that, they'll be able to drive through the new diverging diamond interchange,” Hampton said.

The project has included the widening of ramps at Interstate 95/A1A at Exit 373. That exit leads to Yulee, Callahan, Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach.

Ray said what makes diverging diamond interchanges different is motorists drive on the opposite side of the road in the interchange.

“It is actually significantly safer in terms of the design. It’s actually been proven to reduce crashes by 50%," he said.

Bicyclists in the area might also be happy to know the interchange includes a dedicated bike lane, which Ray said he has already personally tried at a diverging diamond in Sarasota.

FDOT is a big believer in the design. Another diverging diamond interchange is under construction at J. Turner Butler Boulevard and San Pablo Road. A couple of others are scheduled to be built as part of the First Coast Expressway.

WATCH: How The Interchange Works

“They help make the interchange more efficient, they can move through traffic a lot faster than a traditional interchange, because you eliminate a left-hand turn,” Ray said. “By eliminating a left turn cycle, you eliminate conflict points, which are where crashes are very prone. And then you also improve the efficiency because you're not waiting for a traffic signal to cycle through.”

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.