Clay County drivers frustrated by troublesome light at 295 & 17

Clay County drivers are frustrated and say they’re dealing with a traffic nightmare.

They’re specifically talking about the off ramp from I-295 South onto US 17 South to head into Orange Park. During rush hour there can be overwhelming backups in the lanes to head south. This is due to the ongoing construction project to widen the interchange.

To do that the Florida Department of Transportation had to close what they referred to as a “slip” lane that drivers often used to merge onto US 17. Now there’s a new traffic light with red and green arrows. Drivers are now allowed to turn right on red after they stop but the traffic pattern is confusing and many drivers don’t realize that. As a result, particularly in peak traffic times, the congestion is massive.

Drivers in the News 4 Clay County Facebook Group sounded off both exasperated and angry. These are just a few of the many comments:

“In the words of my husband who uses that intersection daily: “this is ****ing bull****! Why did they **** with it? Now it takes me 15mins to sit through this light because it’s so congested. I wish they had just left it alone!”

“It made the traffic much worse. Before hand the traffic would keep flowing, now it’s bumper to bumper a mile down the interstate leading up to the 17 exit,” another person wrote.

“Good lord!! They need to fix the lights so the traffic flows not cause MORE congestion!! Freaking parking lot! Adds 30 minutes more to your commute,” another frustrated driver posted.

While News4JAX crews were out monitoring the intersection they notice several drivers honk or shake their heads and curse at drivers in front of them who weren’t turning right on red after stopping.

News4JAX contacted the Florida Department of Transportation who said they were aware of the driver frustration and have been making corrections to the traffic pattern in recent days. They sent us this statement:

As part of the ongoing project to provide operational improvements at the I-295 and U.S. 17 interchange, a temporary traffic shift was completed on Jan. 15 that closed the slip lane from southbound I-295 to southbound U.S. 17 to allow the project team to complete widening of the roadway in that area. Following this shift, two lanes were available for drivers seeking to go south on U.S. 17, controlled by a signal with a No Right Turn on Red restriction.

While the project team anticipated the change would likely create a modest short-term increase in congestion during this temporary construction phase, the resulting congestion levels were not acceptable to the Department, and the team immediately began working on changes to alleviate congestion while still allowing for the necessary construction activities in the area. Since mid-January, multiple adjustments have been made to the signal timing at the interchange, and earlier this week, the signage reflecting the No Right Turn on Red restriction for the I-295 South to southbound U.S. 17 movement was replaced with signage indicating drivers could go Right on Red After Stop. These modifications have significantly improved congestion approaching the interchange, and the project team will continue to monitor traffic and make additional adjustments where appropriate. Once the interchange is in its final configuration, the ramp will allow for three lanes going southbound on U.S. 17 and three lanes going northbound on U.S. 17.

We apologize for the temporary inconvenience caused by construction and appreciate the patience of the traveling public as we work to deliver these long-term improvements to the interchange. As always, we urge all roadway users to follow posted speed limits, avoid distractions while driving and use extra caution in construction zones.

Here is a link to the project’s website: Project Details (

The full project is expected to be complete late this year.

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