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Exclusive: The New I-595

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For years 595 has been a traffic nightmare.

“It’s chaotic!” said driver Yaoina Aybar.  “Like, I’m scared every time I get on the highway,” she laughed.

Now there’s a new I-595, called the I-595 Express Project .

Over this past 4 years it’s been transformed into a whole new road.

“We’ve rebuilt the whole entire corridor,” said Paul Lampley from the Florida Department of Transportation. “(It includes) ten and a half miles on 595 including State Road 84 and two and a half miles on Florida’s Turnpike.”

In all, there are 62 new bridges, a simpler interchange with the turnpike, new ramps to keep entering and exiting traffic from mixing, three reversible toll lanes in the middle and up to five regular lanes in each direction.

“There’s more room in the general purpose lanes,” he added. We’ve added auxiliary lanes between the intersections. We’ve also built a continuous State Road 84.”

Here’s how those toll lanes work.

They stretch from I-75 to 441.  In the morning, they will be open to eastbound traffic with a 70 mile per hour speed limit.  Drivers could make the 10 mile commute in 8 to 9 minutes.  At one in the afternoon, gates will close off the whole thing – so the area can be cleared out – getting ready to reverse traffic flow.

“How strong is this gate?” asked CBS 4’s Ted Scouten.

“It’s able to stop light trucks, it’s also able to stop any passenger vehicle,” Lampley said. “We’ve also had incidents in Tampa where it was hit by a tractor-trailer truck and it actually stopped a tractor-trailer truck.”

In the evening, traffic will head west.  The cost should be anywhere between 50 cents and two dollars. “I hope it works out,” said driver Rick Day.  “It’s really been a nasty road for quite a while.   If does what they’re intending it to do,  it ought to be really good.”

The $1.2 billion mega project was financed and built by a private company in just 4 years.

Once the toll lanes open, the state will begin a 30 year re-payment plan.  Had this been a state “pay as you go” plan, this whole thing would have been broken down into 12 separate projects that would have taken more than 15 years to finish.  Nearly all the major roadwork has already been completed.

The reversible toll lanes are set to open March 26th

Traffic will move eastbound from 4:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., then will close for an hour.

From 2:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m., drivers will go westbound for the evening commute.  They’ll close each night for two hours for maintenance.    The cost will usually range from 50 cents to two dollars for the entire 10-mile stretch.   The target commute time is less than ten minutes from end to end.

To find out more about the project, there is a Community Open House on Thursday February 27 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Signature Grand at 6900 SR 84 in Davie.

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