In 2009, Congress passed “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” (ARRA). This bill, also known as the “Stimulus Package,” funded federal infrastructure projects across the US. The first phase of State Road 9B was one of the largest funded by ARRA, with a total cost of $68 Million. When all three phases are completed, the State Road will connect the counties of Duval and St. Johns, and run as a 4 lane, divided highway from CR 2209 to SR 9A (I-295 Outer Beltway).
The initial planning stages for the project, which included a Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) Study, had begun as early as 2002, but stalled due to the lack of funding.
In 2010, England-Thims & Miller, Inc. was contracted by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to provide professional Construction Engineering & Inspection (CEI) services for the first phase of the project. It then won the CEI bid for each of the two remaining phases.
As CEI managers, ETM provided, onsite inspection and engineering services for the FDOT, and coordinated with the Federal Highway Administration, Resident, District and Central Office FDOT personnel.
Phase 1: Connecting SR 9A to US-1 (Philips Hwy)
Because of the scope and related cost of building SR 9B, its construction was split into 3 separate Design-Build phases. This meant that for each phase, the Design-Build team for the project would create the development design and submit it to the FDOT as part of the proposal process.
Construction for the first phase began in 2010, fully funded by ARRA. Its purpose was to add a leg on the south end of SR 9A, that would act as shortcut to US-1 (Philips Highway).
The phase included: land development (which utilized over 1.3 million cubic yards of embankment), two interchanges (one on either end of 9B), 13 bridges and over 3 miles of new concrete pavement (with underlying asphalt base) with its accompanying drainage, and water and sewer relocations - all built to Federal Interstate Standards.
Phase 2: Building from US-1 to I-95
The second phase is currently in process and nearly completed. When finished, the $94 Million leg will connect US-1 to I-95 just above the Bartram Springs neighborhood.
The construction of Phase 2 was accelerated by a Public-Private Partnership (P3) formed between the FDOT and the Design-Build Team that included a 5-year finance component for the 3-year project.
When complete, the phase will include 8 bridges and interchanges with US-1 (Philips Hwy.) and I-95. The placement of the I-95 interchange was designed to alleviate traffic from the interchange between I-95 and I-295, which becomes a traffic pile up at certain peak times of the day.
Phase 3: Giving Northern St. Johns County Better Access to I-95
Construction for the third and final phase of SR 9B is scheduled to begin in late 2015. While the first 2 phases provided a shortcut from US-1 to SR 9A and alleviated traffic from the I-95 and I-295 Interchange, Phase 3 is by far the most anticipated and sought after leg of the corridor.
When complete, northern St. Johns County will have significantly better access to both I-95 and SR 9A, making it easier to get to major destinations like the Town Center in Duval County and giving them a faster route to Downtown Jacksonville.
To further the anticipation of this major connector, the future interchange on the south-end, near Race Track Road. is already preparing for a Bass Pro Shop, a development that has created momentum for future commerce on the newly accessible property.