Motorists who use the Hart Bridge’s elevated ramps for trips in and out of downtown can expect to start feeling the impact of a demolition and reconstruction project in early 2020, according to a presentation shown Wednesday to the Downtown Investment Authority board.
City Public Works Director John Pappas said the anticipated timeline for the $39 million project is to begin the construction in the first three months of 2020 and finish by the end of 2021.
The work will demolish a three-quarter mile section of the elevated ramps near the sports complex and build new connections so drivers coming from the Hart Bridge would come down to ground-level as they go through the sports complex area.
The rest of this year will involve behind-the-scenes work as the city refines the concept and brings on board a team that would design and build the project.
Pappas said maintaining traffic flow in the construction zone will be a high priority on a daily basis and during sports events that draw big crowds.
“We’re going to be spending a lot of time focusing on that,” Pappas said.
When the work begins, the first area for the changes will be the eastern end of the project to build the new connection “as quickly as possible” between the Hart Bridge and Gator Bowl Boulevard, also known as Bay Street as it gets closer to downtown. The new connection would touch down near the WJCT building.
The second reconnection will be built at the western end of the project near A. Philip Randolph Boulevard so drivers can use the elevated ramps that continue into downtown, or if they choose, stay on Bay Street.
The presentation showed that for the portion of the trip where drivers would be at ground-level, the street would be four lanes wide for vehicles. An eight-foot wide sidewalk on the north side of the street would remain, and a new 12-foot path on the other side would be for walking and bicycling.
The demolition of a portion of the elevated roadway would open up that area for large-scale redevelopment envisioned by Jaguars owner Shad Khan on some parking lots next to TIAA Bank Field as well as portions of Metropolitan Park and The Shipyards.