East Florida Office Leader
A high volume of transportation infrastructure work is keeping companies such as HNTB busy in Jacksonville, driven by an influx of new residents, says George Gilhooley, east Florida office leader for the infrastructure design firm.
“Jacksonville is providing outstanding balance in their transportation infrastructure programs,” he says, naming the completed 5th Street/McDuff Complete Streets project and Blanding Boulevard Rapid Transit project as examples.
“There’s also work being planned to support mobility solutions needed for the future, including commuter rail to St. Augustine and the Ultimate Urban Circulator project.”
The U.S. Census estimates Jacksonville’s population at more than 971,000 as of July 2022, up 2.3% in two years, and an increase of nearly 150,000 since the 2010 census. That growth of more than 18% in 12 years has generated investment from the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT), which estimates the urban area around the city to include more than 1.27 million residents.
“The volume of work is likely to continue increasing in the coming years within Jacksonville and surrounding counties,” Gilhooley says, noting the growing population.
On the upswing for the past several years, transportation remains the most active market sector in Jacksonville, driven by the FDOT work program that includes significant investments in the First Coast Expressway and I-95 widening projects, Gilhooley says. Another catalyst is residential expansion into adjacent Nassau County to the north and Clay and St. Johns counties to the south, all of which contribute to the Jacksonville market.
The I-95/I-295 project is one of four in progress along I-95 in Duval County as nearby counties like Nassau, Clay and St. Johns see growing residential expansion.
Photo courtesy Florida Dept. of Transportation
FDOT currently has four projects on I-95 in Duval County, including repairs to the bridge over the Nassau River set to complete late this year; interchange improvements to the highway interchange with Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway (U.S. 1), set to complete in 2026; and at the interchange with Interstate 295, set to complete in spring 2024.
Archer Western and RS&H are leading the $176.8-million project to reconfigure the I-95/I-295 intersection to allow motorists to maneuver through it with fewer lane shifts.
The project will add lanes as well as replace the Cole Road bridge over I-95.
“The volume of work is likely to continue to increase in the coming years within Jacksonville and surrounding counties.”
—George Gilhooley, East Florida Office Leader, HNTB
Aside from infrastructure, as ENR has reported previously, key building projects are also in the works around the stadium complex for the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars. They include the $300-million transformation of a former shipyard into a 450,000-sq-ft Four Seasons Hotel and a 135,000-sq-ft, six-story office building next to the Jaguars’ TIAA Bank Field, which itself is set to be transformed into the “Stadium of the Future” per ambitious designs unveiled this summer.
The total project cost could be up to $2 billion, say Associated Press reports, including $1.4 billion to expand concourse surface areas and connectivity as well as other work to boost stadium seating capacity from 62,000 to 71,500.
But a competitive labor market remains a problem for firms as they work to keep up, Gilhooley says.