June 23, 2020 (Courtesy of The Florida Times-Union) The questions from drivers in Jacksonville and out of state continue to come in: Why is Florida still running COVID-19 checkpoints on I-95 at the border with Georgia and on I-10 west of Pensacola at Alabama’s state line?
Now the state says it has deactivated the West Florida checkpoint on I-10, in accordance with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement Wednesday expanding what can reopen in Florida. But the one north of Jacksonville will remain for now.
DeSantis issued a late March directive that anyone from Connecticut, Louisiana, New Jersey or New York had to stop at the checkpoints to be tested for the COVID-19 virus. Those states are “areas of significant community spread” of the virus, the state said. If they had symptoms, they had to self-isolate for 14 days with state health officials checking on them.
The I-95 checkpoint caused traffic backups since it began. Readers wonder why it is still in place when the governor has lifted many COVID-19 stay-at-home and business restrictions.
Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Beth Frady said the state continues to monitor the data, so it “remains active at this time.”
The state confirmed Thursday that about 57,000 travelers have filled out forms at the I-10 and I-95 checkpoints. For more information go to floridahealthcovid19.gov/travelers.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority and Florida State College at Jacksonville have agreed to expand the Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) autonomous vehicle testing to the state college campuses. The testing program will expand to FSCJ’s Commercial Driver’s License Test Track at its Cecil Center Campus. The authority and college will also begin using the autonomous vehicles on one of FSCJ’s campuses and develop curriculum for autonomous vehicles and technology.
The JTA is developing the U2C network for downtown Jacksonville, with its first phase being the Bay Street Innovation Corridor and fully funded.
‒ As part of an interchange improvement project, expect Tuesday overnight detours of the I-95 northbound-to-Airport Road westbound off-ramp (exit 363B) while crews paint roadway markings. The nightly detours are scheduled from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. The $11 million project should be done this summer. For information visit nflroads.com.
‒ And finally, the JTA is making the final touches to the pedestrian bridge that will connect the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center at LaVilla and Intercity Bus Terminal. The authority already transitioned most of its fixed-route bus operations on May 4 to the center at 100 LaVilla Center Drive. Now the blue awning-covered walkway is close to completion to connect city buses with the terminal across West Bay Street that serves Greyhound, Megabus and RedCoach lines.