By Steve Plunkett
Motorists heading south to a Florida Atlantic University football game or other campus event in 2017 will exit Interstate 95 on a ramp that crosses Yamato Road and the interstate itself before depositing them on FAU Boulevard.
And drivers leaving FAU for points south will use an equally intricate ramp that takes them north almost to Yamato before U-turning back to merge with I-95.
It’s all part of the state Department of Transportation’s $66.6 million solution to adding an I-95 interchange at Spanish River Boulevard. Work started in mid-January on noise walls along Yamato Road and next to the San de Vance community, the first phase of the nearly three-year project.
“It’s truly going to be the solution to congestion on Glades Road,” Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie said while noting the start of construction at the City Council’s Jan. 14 meeting.
Dan Grippo, the city’s municipal services director, said the Transportation Department wanted to call the interchange “FAU Blvd.” on exit signs but Boca Raton pushed for the name to be “Spanish River Blvd.”
Grippo said Boca Raton expects most of the new traffic to be headed to the university and he does not anticipate much spillover on Spanish River Boulevard, which the city maintains.
City Council member Constance Scott, at a state-sponsored open house for the interchange Jan. 15, agreed.
“I really don’t see a huge amount of traffic that’s going to occur,” Scott said.
FAU Boulevard and Spanish River, now a three-way, T-shaped intersection, will become a four-way crossing.
The project includes widening Spanish River Boulevard west of FAU Boulevard, building eight new bridges between Spanish River and Yamato, widening five bridges on the interstate and Spanish River, improving traffic signals, and extending the El Rio Trail to a trail north of Yamato.
A new lane will be added in both directions on I-95 between the Spanish River interchange and Glades Road. New lanes in both directions will also be added between the Yamato Road and Congress Avenue exits. Yamato Road will also get an improved northbound exit ramp and westbound entrance ramps.
Astaldi Construction is performing the work, and Creative Engineering Group Inc. is overseeing the project for the Department of Transportation. It will be necessary to close traffic lanes to do the work safely, the state agency said.
Project-related closures on I-95 and ramps can be expected from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day Sunday through Friday, the DOT said. No lane closures will be permitted during FAU events in order to minimize potential impacts, it said.