Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County has been largely free of construction for the past year but that could change in six months.
Astaldi Construction of Davie is expected to get the green light Monday from the Florida Department of Transportation to launch a $66.6 million project to build a new interchange at Spanish River Boulevard.
The project south of Yamato Road will offer a direct route from the highway to Florida Atlantic University.
It will be the first new I-95 interchange in Palm Beach County since 2004, when a direct-access interchange to Palm Beach International Airport was completed.
Astaldi will begin the design phase of the project on Monday. Barring no delays or major revisions, construction could start by December. But chances are it will start in January to avoid any congestion over the holidays, said FDOT spokeswoman Andrea Pacini. It’s scheduled for completion in 2016.
The project will include auxiliary lanes on I-95 in both directions from Glades Road to the Spanish River interchange and auxiliary lanes in both directions from Yamato Road to Congress Avenue.
City officials said the new interchange will reduce traffic on Glades Road, one of the most heavily-traveled east-west thoroughfares in the county. Glades Road – south of Spanish River Boulevard — is also the main access to FAU for northbound commuters on I-95.
There are about 75,291 daily trips on Glades Road from I-95 east to Perimeter Road, which is just west of the main entrance of FAU. That’s the busiest stretch of road in the county, according to county traffic records.
By comparison, there are 63,331 daily trips on Glades Road from I-95 west to St. Andrews Boulevard.
“This new interchange will be an incredible reliever to the Glades Road congestion,’’ said Susan Haynie, deputy mayor of Boca Raton, who also chairs the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“And it also will take a lot of the surface road traffic that is trying to get to the university and avoiding the congestion of Glades. A lot of the traffic gets off on Palmetto Park Road (south of Glades Road) and then travels (north on) the surface roads to get to FAU.’’
Haynie hopes the interchange will spur development on 78 acres of vacant land east of I-95 and north of Spanish River Boulevard.
A public meeting will be held in Boca Raton closer to the construction date, which will be determined later this fall as the design progresses. Once work starts, the DOT will try to limit delays on I-95.
Lane closures will only be allowed between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m,. Sunday through Thursday. The interstate may be closed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., using rolling road blocks, to erect beams and for other construction over I-95.
The Spanish River Boulevard interchange will be the first major construction project on I-95 in Palm Beach County since the widening of an 8-mile stretch from PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens to Indiantown Road in Jupiter, a three-year project completed in February 2012.
It will include a new bridge on Spanish River Boulevard over I-95 and improvements to Yamato Road from the CSX railroad tracks to Fourth Avenue. The interchange will also bring relief to students and teachers on their way to FAU and to football fans attending games on weekends.
“Some of the frustration they may be feeling now will be greatly reduced. It’s going to really reduce traffic on Glades from Monday through Friday on peak hours,’’ said Tom Donaudy, FAU Vice President for Facilities.
“On game days, when we get to that point where we are selling out the stadium for our games, the coordination for traffic management will be so much easier. Fans coming to the games will have so much of a better experience.’’