The Florida Department of Transportation presented design alternatives for the Interstate 95 interchange at Pioneer Trail in a public meeting April 30 at the Brannon Center in New Smyrna Beach.
FDOT staff explained three alternatives, answered questions and received public input.
The purpose of the interchange at I-95 and Pioneer Trail is to relieve traffic congestion at the I-95 interchanges with State Road 421 in Port Orange and State Road 44 in New Smyrna Beach. According to FDOT, the project also aims to support economic development associated with existing and approved developments.
FDOT is at the stage in a roadway project where they conduct a project development and environmental study. The purpose of the study is to develop and evaluate options for the proposed interchange. They look closely at the various impacts each design would have on the social, economic, cultural, natural and physical environment. A public hearing is then conducted to discuss the findings and select the preferred concept.
The three alternatives all have on and off ramps both northbound and southbound. The difference is in the design.
There is also a fourth alternative called “no build,” meaning the project would not move forward. FDOT staff at the public meeting would not provide opinions on the chances for the interchange not being built. Representatives for both Volusia County and the City of Port Orange confirmed the project has been formally supported by the County Council and the City Council respectively. Phillip Veski, public information officer for the City of New Smyrna Beach said the City Commission has discussed the topic, but no formal position has been taken.
The first design option for the interchange is referred to as a diamond with the more traditional off and on ramps. For those familiar with the I-95 interchange with S.R. 442 in Edgewater, that is an example of a diamond interchange.
The second alternative is a partial cloverleaf configuration. It is similar to the diamond interchange with regard to the northbound on and off ramps; however, the southbound off ramps would include two separate ramps so drivers could either head westbound or eastbound on Pioneer Trail. A local example of this design is the I-95 interchange with S.R. 44 in New Smyrna. One of the southbound ramps is straight off the highway for drivers who want to head westbound, and the other loops for those who want to go east.
The third option is also a partial cloverleaf, which would add another loop ramp for those drivers traveling north on I-95. That alternative eliminates the need to buy property in the southeast quadrant of the interchange for any ramps.
FDOT plans to conduct a public hearing in early 2020 to discuss the study findings and receive public comments. Based on the outcome of that hearing, the study will be finalized by the spring of 2020. The project then moves into design, where construction plans are prepared.
FDOT officials emphasized at the public meeting this project is in the early stages. The proposed schedule allows for about two years for construction plans to be completed once a decision is made on the design and that same amount of time for FDOT to buy the necessary property to build the interchange. Then the actual construction will take another two to three years.
Each of the steps is contingent on funding, so there could be further delays if money is not allotted. FDOT estimates construction costs for whichever alternative is selected will be about $50 million.
All information presented at the alternatives public meeting is available on the study’s website at cflroads.com. Follow the prompts or search for project 436292-1. The FDOT project manager for the study is Heather Grubert, a professional engineer who can be contacted at Heather.Grubert@dot.state.fl.us or (386) 943-5540.