BOCA RATON, Fla. — Drivers on Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County will have an easier and faster way to get around. Express lanes are being built in the southern part of the county, but that means years of construction are ahead.
The Florida Department of Transportation is investing $1 billion in building express lanes from Broward County to Delray Beach. The tolled lanes would connect with the current lanes already built in Miami.
"Driving on 95 right now, it is a zoo," said Christopher Tapia when asked how he'd describe driving on I-95.
The express lanes project started in 2016 when work began in Broward County. In the last three years, construction has started near Boca Raton, creating additional problems for some.
"I have to prepare myself half an hour before in order for me to be on time," said Tapia.
"In the busiest portion of I-95 in Palm Beach County from Linton (Boulevard) to Broward, we left it at eight lanes," said Nick Uhren, executive director of the Palm Bech County Transportation Planning Agency.
He said the Florida Department of Transportation is investing in the future by widening I-95 and adding the express lanes.
"You are investing in capacity and investing in the ability to move in the future," said Uhren.
He added the construction will cause some traffic headaches.
"When you are in the middle of surgery, it is not a pleasant experience," said Uhren.
Here is the timeline for the express lanes, according to the FDOT:
- Commercial Boulevard to Southwest 10th Street: completed in 2019
- Broward Boulevard to Commerical Boulevard: construction until spring 2022
- Hollywood Boulevard to Broward Boulevard: construction until 2025
- Southwest 10th Street to Glades Road: construction until summer 2021
- Glades Road to Linton Boulevard: construction until 2023
Tapia said he would gladly pay for the tolled lanes when they are complete.
"Absolutely, I would use it," said Tapia. "It is something we are in need of."
Other drivers like Marshall Sklar said they would stick to the general use lanes.
"I won't pay for a road that for a long time was free," said Sklar.
Uhren said even if a driver doesn't use the express lanes, the lanes would still help with traffic flow on I-95.
"The idea is, even if you don't use the lanes, you will benefit from the construction and operations because other people will use them, and that will reduce the number of people in the general use lanes competing for space," said Uhren.
While adding the express lanes on I-95, the FDOT will also be reconstructing the Glades Road interchange and converting it into a diverging diamond interchange. The idea is the DDI will reduce a driver's time spent at traffic lights and move through the intersection fast and easier when getting on or off I-95.
The DDI will be the first of its kind in Palm Beach County.
The Glades Road interchange will be one of nearly a dozen more interchanges to see construction over the next 10 years in Palm Beach County. The FDOT has plans to work on almost every interchange in the county. There are plans to convert the Lantana Road interchange to a DDI, with work starting in 2026-27. Other projects include widening ramps at 45th Street and adding turn lanes at Woolbright Road.
For a full look at I-95 projects in the county, find them on the map below:
Uhren said all these changes need to happen to help adapt to the growth in the county.
The FDOT plans to study how they can extend the express lanes project beyond Linton Boulevard to the county line.
"In the 15- to 20-year timeline, we would likely see the rest of I-95 go under construction to go from a 10-lane to a 12-lane road with two merger lanes and four general purposes lanes," added Uhren.
Florida's Turnpike is also seeing some work. A widening project has started near Boynton Beach Boulevard, and there are plans to add another lane to traffic from Boynton Beach to Lantana and eventually through all of Palm Beach County.
"I know we are sacrificing right now, but I know that in the future it will help us," said Tapia.
FDOT crews will keep most of their work overnight and will only close lanes during the overnight hours. To keep up to date with any updates or closure on I-95 or the Turnpike, learn more at 95Express.com and FloridasTurnpike.com.