We are making great progress on the I-95 at U.S. 1 interchange project in Ormond Beach and I believe we are getting closer to making this project a reality. A solid engineering solution has already been identified by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in close coordination with the local government partners and communities, and we are making tremendous strides toward project implementation.
The Moving Florida Forward Infrastructure Initiative included $340 million in construction funding for the project. The initiative is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bold vision to advance 20 priority transportation infrastructure projects in the state.
As Florida continues to experience rapid increases in population and tourism, this proposal will address congestion and improve safety, while ensuring a more resilient transportation system and bolstering the supply chain.
Although the I-95 at U.S. 1 interchange project is listed as number 20 on the list, it is certainly not the lowest priority project – the projects were simply listed alphabetically by county name.
A team led by Mayor Bill Partington and comprised of the City of Ormond Beach, Volusia County, the Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, and myself, recently met with FDOT Secretary Jared Perdue, and his leadership team in Tallahassee.
Secretary Perdue assured us that the project has been in the pipeline for some time, and it will remain a priority for FDOT and the state of Florida.
The I-95 at U.S. 1 interchange, close to where I live in Volusia County, was built in the 1960s as part of the Eisenhower interstate system and is one of the oldest interchanges in the state that needs modernization.
A Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study and design are concurrently underway. FDOT invested $7.5 million and innovatively overlapped PD&E and design to expedite the project delivery. A reputable national architecture, engineering, and consulting services firm, RS&H, is leading the study.
The purpose of the study is to improve safety, accommodate future travel demand, enhance pedestrian connectivity, and optimize the overall operation of the interchange. The PD&E study analyzed safety, mobility, and environmental issues near the interchange; identified and evaluated alternate solutions; and recommended improvements that would best meet the purpose and need for the project while minimizing impacts.
An approximately one-mile segment of U.S. 1 between Plantation Oaks Boulevard/Broadway Avenue and Destination Daytona Lane will be widened from two to three lanes in each direction. This widening includes the addition of shared-use paths to serve bicyclists, pedestrians, and other users.
Identifying the right engineering solution for the interchange was a challenge. The interchange area is constrained by the Florida East Coast Railway in the southeast and southwest quadrants, commercial properties in the northwest quadrant, and residential development in the northeast quadrant.
Two alternative interchange configurations were considered – Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) and Offset Intersection.
The DDI emerged as the preferred alternative considering safety and capacity benefits, traffic operations and conflict points, bicycle and pedestrian accommodation, and accessibility enhancements. I believe that the project team did an excellent job coming up with the most favorable solution for the interchange based on science and community input. Public hearings for this project were held on March 29th and 30th this year.
The meeting material is available online. The PD&E Study is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
The department has worked closely with communities and regional and local partners through the years to plan and prepare this project for construction. Extensive community outreach was conducted from the onset of the project to understand the vision, needs, and desires of the residents and businesses near the interchange.
City of Ormond Beach leaders have been coordinating with FDOT for several years. As a consultant to both FDOT and the City of Ormond Beach, I have had the pleasure of observing the high level of intergovernmental collaboration throughout the planning and project development process.
The project is supported by Volusia County, Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce, and Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, and has been prioritized by the River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization. The community engagement process ensured everyone is invited to share ideas and feedback in an open, inclusive, and respectful setting, and that every voice is heard. The business community, elected officials, and residents all came together to support the project.
Like most Moving Florida Forward projects, this project will not be built in one year. However, expediting the project will bring it to completion more than a decade ahead of schedule, which I believe is critically important given that the interchange experiences over 170 crashes every year. Over the last 3 decades, I’ve had the pleasure of chairing many coalitions in Central Florida, especially in Volusia County.
These coalitions brought the community together and secured funding for critical infrastructure projects. If the I-4 Bridge at the St. John's River had not been widened 30 years ago, countless lives would have been lost on that heavily traveled roadway.
Similarly, the International Speedway Boulevard (ISB) Coalition worked hard to build consensus and secure over $200 million in funding for the complex interchange at I-4, ISB, and I-95, a project that has clearly improved access and elevated the experience for travelers in Volusia County. The coalition continued its fine work which led to the success of the surrounding network – East ISB, the gateway to our beaches, is currently under construction.
In my opinion, the I-95 at U.S. 1 interchange must be expedited so the residents, businesses, and visitors of Volusia County can realize the benefits starting now as opposed to waiting for another decade or potentially longer. I can’t thank all constituents enough for continuing to work together toward securing infrastructure funding for this much-needed project.
As Winston Churchill said, “never, never, never give up.”
Maryam Ghyabi-White is the CEO & President of Ghyabi Consulting & Management, LLC and serves as an adjunct professor at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She is also a consultant to FDOT and local governments on complex infrastructure projects throughout the State of Florida. She serves as Vice Chair of the St. Johns Water Management District. She is also an avid supporter of Pace Center for Girls and serves on the National Board of Directors.