Mayor balks at I-95 reconfigure proposal

A proposal to reconfigure Interstate 95 in Port St. Lucie so motorists could no longer use the highway to drive between Crosstown Parkway and St. Lucie West Boulevard faces opposition from Mayor Greg Oravec.

“For the locals who actually use the roads, it really feels terrible,” Oravec said about the “braided ramp” concept. “You’re taking away connectivity.”

The reconfiguration of the Crosstown Parkway and St. Lucie West Boulevard interchanges is among the I-95 projects the Florida Department of Transportation plans by 2045 in St. Lucie County.

Oravec discussed the ramp projects during an interview on May 8 after FDOT’s public information workshop about its “Multimodal Master Plan” for I-95 at the Port St. Lucie Community Center.

Florida Department of Transportation has proposed constructing braided ramps on I-95 northbound between Crosstown Parkway and St. Lucie West Boulevard in the 2030s to deal with increasing traffic.

Braided ramps would be needed on I-95 southbound between Crosstown Parkway and St. Lucie West Boulevard by 2045, FDOT records show.

FDOT builds the costly braided ramps on urban highways, where interchanges are relatively close, so a bridge separates vehicles entering the highway on one interchange from those exiting at the next interchange.

FDOT deployed the braided ramp configuration on several interchanges on I-595 in Broward County.

But Oravec said he believes the braided ramps would prevent motorists from using I-95 to travel between Crosstown Parkway in rapidly growing Tradition and St. Lucie West Boulevard.

“I think it’s really terrible for mobility in the city of Port St. Lucie because those braided ramps would not allow you to take Crosstown to St. Lucie West Boulevard,” Oravec said. “Many, many people do that. That would no longer be an option.”

But Oravec said he’s looking forward FDOT’s 2022 improvement project at the St. Lucie West Boulevard interchange on I-95, including a new, wider eastbound bridge over the highway. Oravec said he’s also glad to see FDOT plans to widen I-95 to eight lanes through Port St. Lucie to Okeechobee Road/State Road 70 by the 2030s. The highway is already four lanes between Okeechobee and Indrio roads.

Approximately 80,500 vehicles per day travel on I-95 between the Martin County line and St. Lucie West Boulevard, state records show. Traffic volume is about 71,500 vehicles per day between St. Lucie West Boulevard and Midway Road.

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