That's what the detour will be between the St. Johns River Ferry landings in Mayport and North Jacksonville's Heckscher Drive come Sept. 4 when JTA has to shut down the iconic ship's operations for eight weeks of repairs.
This is the second time in two years that JTA has docked the venerable Jean Ribault for repairs. While shut down through October, all those commuters — from U.S. Navy personnel going to Naval Station Mayport from the Northside, or Southeast Georgia tourists looking to try some Mayport shrimp — have to take the long away around instead of the .9-mile ferry trip.
The Florida Highway Patrol is aware of the shutdown and the extra traffic it could bring to the detour routes like Interstates 95 and 295 on the city's Northside, as well as McCormick and Mount Pleasant roads in Arlington. But Sgt. Dylan Bryan said drivers should just prepare, be aware and drive safely.
"It's going to be a more extensive travel, and they should be anticipating extra travel time on those thoroughfares," he said. "If work is completed early, it would reopen sooner."
The St. Johns River Ferry connects the north and south ends of Florida A1A with daily service, carrying cars and passengers between Mayport Village and Fort George Island across the St. Johns River, with voyages every half hour. But the JTA-operated ferry will officially cease running the day after Labor Day and not operate again until Oct. 31.
That eight-week period is needed to replace the bridges at the ferry terminal as part of a continuing round of repairs anticipated to be completed in January, JTA said. Workers will also rehabilitate bulkheads and install ferry stopping mechanisms, paid for through a $3.35 million U.S. Department of Transportation ferry grant.
The ferry was last briefly shut down during Hurricane Irma a year ago, a year after it faced a week's worth of repairs in late July 2016 to renovate its Fort George-side slip walls and work on the Jean Ribault itself, including a new rub rail, JTA said. The authority had just assumed ownership and operations of the ferry on March 31, doing landscaping and renovations at both landings and integrating its ticket purchasing on the MyJTA mobile ticketing application.
For more information about the ferry schedule when it returns to action, plus tickets, visit jtafla.com or call JTA’s Customer Contact Center at (904) 630-3100.
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549