Years of inching through construction zones and weaving around orange cones should soon be over in Boca Raton.
Expanding the Glades Road entrance/exit ramps to Florida’s Turnpike is scheduled to be done by next summer, and work is about 95 percent complete on the Spanish River Boulevard interchange on Interstate 95, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
“Current contract time runs through November,” said Andi Pacini, project spokeswoman. “However, this [I-95 work] will likely be extended due to holidays, weather days and special event days.”
When done, planners say the two projects should relieve chronic congestion for more than 100,000 daily drivers on Glades Road alone.
An estimated 30,000 access the Turnpike and up to 75,000 travel Glades Road around I-95 between the Town Center Mall and Florida Atlantic University, according to FDOT.
Shaina Yeslow, 38, lives just south of FAU and can’t get out of her Pinelands North neighborhood during the afternoon rush hour.
“I’m land-locked,” she said. “Glades is bumper-to-bumper from FAU up to maybe St. Andrews [Boulevard].”
The new Spanish River Boulevard exit from northbound I-95 and the upgraded Yamato Road exit from southbound I-95 will connect with FAU Boulevard. That will lead traffic directly to the northern entrance of FAU’s campus and reduce I-95 backups on the Glades Road exit ramp to the southern campus entrance.
The ramps connect Spanish River Boulevard with FAU Boulevard and Yamato Road east of I-95 so motorists can travel easily between the three major roadways.
Among the work left to do on the $69 million interchange project:
— Final paving of eight ramps and one extra lane in each direction of I-95 between Glades and Congress Avenue in anticipate of future express lanes.
— Finishing touches on 13 bridges, three of which are built over I-95, and five of which have been widened.
— Installation of signs, lighting, traffic signals, pavement markings, landscaping.
— Completion of sidewalk, curb, gutter and drainage construction along Spanish River Boulevard and Yamato Road.
— Finishing of the underpass along the El Rio Trail.
— Completion of the sound barrier wall north of Yamato Road along the east side of I-95.
The $8.3 million Turnpike project at Glades Road includes:
— Adding a second right turn lane from westbound Glades Road to the Turnpike entrance.
— Adding another right turn lane from the Turnpike off ramp to westbound Glades Road.
— Widening to two lanes the exit ramp from the northbound Turnpike to Glades Road.
— Installing new traffic signals and lighting, improving drainage, and painting the Turnpike bridge over Glades Road.
West Boca resident Michael Feehan said these projects may not be enough.
“It would seem that planners should be looking at the whole system of roads, rather than just applying Band-Aids to the most serious pressure points,” he said.
Plans for a Turnpike ramp at Palmetto Park Road were scrapped in 2010 after objections from residents west of Boca Raton and a drop in toll revenues after the Great Recession.
There are no new plans for another exit in West Boca, Turnpike spokesman Chad Huff said.
Alfred Mims, 35, of Coconut Creek, spends a lot of time on the road delivering groceries while finishing up his MBA graduate degree at FAU and he’s optimistic all the construction will have the desired effect.
“We always have to deal with the darkness before the light,” he said. “But, I think a lot of the traffic will be alleviated.”
Drivers can dial 511 for updated traffic information or go to FL511.com to check on the status of the Glades Road and Turnpike interchange project. They can also call 1-800-749-7453 or go to Floridasturnpike.com.