State Route 23 and 24 in Florida
Florida State Route 23
State Route 23 or State Road 23 (SR-23), also known as the First Coast Expressway or First Coast Outer Beltway, is a toll road and interstate highway in the U.S. state of Florida. The highway is to form a western and southern bypass of the city of Jacksonville and accommodate new developments around the city in addition to through traffic. The planned length is 75 kilometers.
State Route 23 must begin at an interchange with Interstate 95 south of Jacksonville. Interstate 795 must also connect in this area. The highway will have 2×2 lanes and head west, passing south of Jacksonville and crossing the St. Johns River, which is quite wide at the site. The road should then veer north, running along the west side of Jacksonville, before intersecting Interstate 10 west of the city. Shortly thereafter, the highway ends at US 90.
According to Topschoolsintheusa, the interchange with I-10 opened in about 2009, however the rest of the route is initially a single-lane road with intersections built between I-10 and Chaffee Road. The section from Chaffee Road to Kindlewood Drive is older, opening around 2001 as a single carriageway. Challenger Drive opened in 2014, a new road between Kindlewood Drive and Blanding Boulevard (SR-21) that will later serve as a service road for the highway.
Initially, the western section will be constructed over 15 miles between I-10 and Blanding Boulevard (SR-21). Construction began on September 16, 2013 and was originally scheduled to open in 2016. However, the project has been delayed. In July 2018, the stretch from I-10 to Blanding Boulevard opened. On September 13, 2018, the interconnection with US 90 opened immediately north of I-10.
State Route 23 becomes a second bypass of Jacksonville, some distance from existing Interstate 295. 13 connections are planned over 75 kilometres. The highway will initially be constructed with 2×2 lanes. The project will cost $1.8 billion, or about $24 million per mile, not a particularly high amount.
Construction began on the 18-kilometer stretch from Blanding Boulevard to State Route 16 at Green Cove Springs in March 2019. This part should open in mid-2025. In April 2019, construction began 15 kilometers to just before the bridge over the St. Johns River. This part should open in mid-2026.
In a later phase, the southern part around Jacksonville is to be built, including a fairly large bridge over the St. Johns River. Construction of the bridge is estimated at $334 million. The toll road will be fully electronic with SunPass. On April 5, 2018, it was announced that funding was in place for the remaining State Route 23 through I-95.
Every day, 15,000 to 20,000 vehicles use State Route 23 between I-10 and Blanding Boulevard.
Florida State Route 24
State Route 24 or State Road 24 (SR-24) is a state route in the U.S. state of Florida. The road forms a diagonal route from remote Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico through the town of Gainesville to Waldo. State Road 24 is 115 kilometers long.
State Road 24 begins in Cedar Key, a remote village on the Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by tidal swamps. The road then heads inland and has long straight stretches through virtually uninhabited forest and marshland. US 98 is crossed at the hamlet of Otter Creek. Closer to the Gainesville area, there are more scattered buildings in the area, but Gainesville is the first real town on the route and immediately a slightly larger city. Here, it connects to Interstate 75, after which the road forms a major 2×3 lane urban arterial between I-75 and downtown Gainesville.
The road leads past the University of Florida and right through downtown as an east-west route. Outside of Gainesville, the road forms another 2×2 divided highway and opens up the Gainesville Regional Airport. The road continues to maintain 2×2 lanes until the road’s terminus on US 301 in Waldo.
Cedar Key is a small town on the Gulf of Mexico, but because of its strategic location in an otherwise inaccessible coastal region, it played an important role in Florida’s early history. It was the terminus of the Florida Railroad, the state’s first railroad, which was completed to Cedar Key in 1861. At that time, this part of Florida was barely developed. State Road 24 is parallel to the Florida Railroad on nearly all of its route.
In Gainesville, State Road 24 is one of the main access roads. The stretch between I-75 and downtown was widened to 2×3 lanes before the 1990s, and the Gainesville to Waldo stretch was widened to a 2×2 divided highway as early as the 1970s.
1,500 vehicles travel daily between Cedar Key and US 98, then gradually increasing to 12,000 vehicles towards Gainesville. In Gainesville, the road is busier with up to 54,000 vehicles per day between I-75 and downtown. About 18,000 vehicles a day drive between Gainesville and Waldo.