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Newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 southbound set to open this weekend

Another big change is coming for Jacksonville drivers on I-95.

Newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 southbound just after the Fuller Warren Bridge are slated to open this weekend. With the opening of those lanes comes a big change in the traffic pattern, because there will be a decision point at the base of the Bridge where you’ll commit to going to the Southside, or US 1 or Atlantic.

For I-95 southbound drivers who are heading to the Southside- not much changes. You will take I-95 south over the Bridge and keep driving straight, but traffic will now connect to three newly rebuilt lanes of the highway. If you stay on that main stretch of I-95, there will be no option to exit until Emerson.

After the new lanes open and the traffic shift takes effect, the lanes that you are currently driving on will become collector-distributor lanes, meaning they collect limited traffic and only provide exits for a few select routes.

For drivers leaving Downtown on the Main Street or Acosta- not much changes. You will drive on the lanes that are currently being used, but the difference is that those lanes will eventually connect to the new I-95, whereas now the lanes simply become I-95.

For I-95 southbound drivers who want to take US 1 or Atlantic- you’ll need to exit at the base of the Fuller Warren. There will be a new exit lane on the right just after the San Marco exit, which will ultimately connect you to the lanes that we’re driving on now. Once  you’re connected, the traffic pattern continues as you know it now- with the exit to Atlantic on the left and to Philips on the right.

While the FDOT is only opening one exit lane from I-95 southbound to US 1 and Atlantic at this stage, they will open a second one later in the project.

The FDOT says the change is set to be in effect Saturday at 8PM. Prep work will begin Friday night, although there is no clear word at this point what kind of lane closures- if any- you should expect. The opening of the new lanes is subject to the weather.

This is a similar concept to what the FDOT did on I-95 northbound in the same area.  Back in October, newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 northbound opened, and the lanes that had been used during the construction became designated only for Downtown traffic. As it stands, if you want to get to the Main Street, Acosta, or Prudential, you have to exit just north of Emerson. If you do not exit, the highway carries you straight over the Fuller Warren.

The overall project, known as the Overland Bridge project, is slated to be completed in the Spring. It’s aim is to improve the flow of traffic by adding more lanes, while reducing the amount of weaving and lane changing by providing the designated lanes. FDOT says they will have signage up to help with the changes, but they’re asking you to use caution as you and other drivers get used to the changes. 

You can get more information on the FDOT project website.

2018 expected to bring higher gas prices, Jacksonville could see prices peak before summer

A little over a week into 2018, we're learning this year could hold some bad news for your budget.

Gas Buddy has released their 2018 Fuel Price Outlook, which predicts some of the highest gas prices nationwide since 2014. 

Patrick DeHaan, the head of petroleum analysis with Gas Buddy, says the rise is largely in response to oil prices, which stand at multi-year highs. 

"Thankfully, gas prices are relatively low to start the year. They may actually drift a little lower in January and February, if we're lucky, don't count on much, but, then as we start to head toward spring, gas prices will likely accelerate-- March, April, and into May," says DeHaan. 

Here in Jacksonville, Florida, specifically, DeHaan says we could see a peak anywhere between $2.60 and $2.85 a gallon, before summer arrives. 

While recent cuts in oil production are largely driving the prices, Gas Buddy says other unpredictable factors can always come into play, citing Hurricane Irma's effect last year as an example. 

Despite this predicted rise in gas prices, DeHaan says there's always room to save money. 

"One thing we've noticed in the past few years, is what we call 'spread', between what stations charge, has been rising dramatically. 15 to 20 years ago, stations would be mostly be within a couple of pennies of each other and, now, for example, in Jacksonville today, on the low side, you can find gas at $2.29, and some stations are all the way at $2.69," explains DeHaan. 

He recommends shopping around in the year ahead to save quite a bit of money.

No arrests 1 month after Jacksonville murder of young parents, their child

Nearly one month later after a triple murder that claimed the life of a toddler and her young parents,  a Jacksonville family is still hoping for answers in. 

It has been four weeks since 11-month-old Arielle Trotter and her parents, Ariyan Johnson and Quasean Trotter, were found dead in a home on India Avenue.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office hasn’t announced any arrests.

Family members are hoping this doesn’t become a cold case. “It’s just really hard on our family every day,” said Mario Peterson, Arielle’s great-grandfather by marriage.

Nearly a month since a triple murder claimed the life of a toddler & her young parents, & still no arrests & few answers from investigators. The family’s plea to the community is on @ActionNewsJax at 10 & 11. — Russell Colburn (@RussellANjax) January 9, 2018

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue said Dec. 12 firefighters had to force their way into the home, where they found the three bodies.

The family's Christmas tree had caught fire and burned.

Action News Jax sources said the 11-month-old died of smoke inhalation, while her parents were shot to death.

Peterson's message is simple. He asks the community to bring any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, straight to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

“What if this tragedy would have occurred to your family?” Peterson said.  “And we’re seeing this happening to new people’s families and we’re all asking the same thing: Please come forward and help us because we all want closure in our life.”

“No one wants to go through the pain of losing a loved one. It’s the most tragic thing to ever feel,” Peterson said.  

Watch the Georgia Senate 'Call the Dawgs' before championship game

The state of Georgia and city of Atlanta are ready for their moment in college football’s limelight.

>> Read more trending news

On Monday morning, members of the Georgia state Senate “called the Dawgs” during the session ahead of tonight’s College Football Playoff Championship in Atlanta.

Watch the video below:

Georgia and Alabama kick off at 8 p.m. ET at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Ex-Chief of Staff of former Rep. Corrine Brown has surrendered to serve his prison sentence

Former Northeast Florida Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s ex-Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons has surrendered to serve his federal prison sentence.

The Bureau of Prisons confirms to WOKV that Simmons went in to BOP custody at Federal Correctional Institution Cumberland’s satellite camp today, which was his scheduled surrender date. The BOP website describes this facility as a minimum security satellite camp adjacent to FCI Cumberland, which is medium security. The facility is in Maryland, which is where Simmons lives.

The BOP confirms Simmons is assigned to the satellite camp, but per policy, they will not discuss if Simmons faces any future transfer to a different facility.

FULL COVERAGE: The case against former Congresswoman Corrine Brown

Brown, Simmons, and the President of “One Door For Education” Carla Wiley were all involved in a federal fraud case. Simmons and Wiley both pleaded guilty and testified against Brown, who was ultimately convicted on 18 of 22 federal charges. The trio solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to “One Door”, but used the money instead on personal expenses and lavish events, according to the evidence and testimony laid out at trial.

In addition to pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge in connection to the “One Door” scheme, Simmons also pleaded guilty to theft of government funds. He admits to getting his sister a ghost job with the House of Representatives, where she collected a salary- from which Simmons took money- while doing little to no work in return.

Simmons was sentenced to four years, which is actually more than what the guidelines in the case called for. Wiley was sentenced to one year and nine months, and Brown was sentenced to five years. Both Brown and Wiley have been told to voluntarily surrender later this month. All three had been hoping to avoid prison outright, and prosecutors had recommended some leniency for Wiley and Simmons because of their cooperation in the case.

Brown continues to maintain her innocence, saying she put too much trust in Simmons and mismanaged her personal finances and her office. She is appealing her sentence and convictions. Brown previously motioned for a new trial or judgement of acquittal, but was denied by the US District Judge who oversaw the trial and sentencing.

Rally cry for Jags fans: Get in early, get LOUD

Jacksonville Jaguars fans braved the cold Friday evening to come out in support of their home team- in the playoffs this weekend for the first time in ten years, which is the first home playoff game since the 1999 season.

“It’s exciting that we’re winning again. It’s been a long, painful process to get back to where we once were, so it’s great,” says Julie Krovicka.

She has been a Jags fan since day one, along with Doug Krovicka.

“We remember what it used to be like when we won so much and this place was packed and you had to have a ticket every Sunday, and if you didn’t, you felt left out. I feel that’s what Shad’s [Khan] got us back to, so it’s exciting,” he says.

GALLERY: City of Jacksonville hosts “Bills Bustin’ Bash”

They’re just a few of the long-time Jags fans who didn’t expect much from this season, but continued to cheer for the team regardless. And now, they feel not only like they’re being rewarded, but the City is as well.

“It’s great, it gives you a really good feeling that they’re being loyal. All the people that cut us down as a city with an NFL team, I think they’re seeing what we’re really made of,” says Thomas Skinner, who’s another day one fan.

He credits Jags Head Coach Doug Marrone for the turnaround. Others say players are coming with an intensity that hasn’t been seen in many seasons, and that’s what’s building wins and success.

“I didn’t know what to expect at the start of the season, because last season we were hoping for the change, and then it didn’t come and it didn’t come, and then the end of the season came and what a huge let down. So yes, I was hoping for it, but did I expect it, no,” says Margie Johnson, who’s rooted for the team ever since moving to Jacksonville in 1997.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry led a rally for fans Friday, including several rounds of DUUUVVAAALL chants. He and Jags owner Shad Khan had the same clear message- they’re calling on fans to get in to the stadium early on Sunday, and to be loud, in an effort to give the Jags every advantage of this home playoff game.

About 70,000 fans are expected to be there when the Jags kickoff against the Bills. JSO wants you to be at the gates by 11AM to get in and seated for the 1:05PM kickoff.

What fans headed to Sunday’s Jags playoff game need to know

Stadium officials are urging fans who plan on attending Sunday's playoff game versus the Bills to show up early so they'll have time to get into the stadium. Kick-off is set for 1:05 PM.

Parking lots around EverBank Field open at 9 AM. Gates 1 and 4 open at 10 AM. 

Fans who enter by noon will receive an official rally towel.  Teal-colored refreshments, including ice cream, hamburger buns and beer will be sold.

If your ticket comes via a mobile device, you are reminded to fully charge your phones and have tickets uploaded for presentation at the ticket gate prior to arrival. 

When you arrive, make sure your jacket is unzipped to show you are not bringing anything that is prohibited. 

For an explanation of what is prohibited and the clear bag policy, please visit 

Pregame activities include player introductions at about 12:50 and the National Anthem at 12:58.

Watch for black ice on the roads

After winter-storm related rain soaked Northeast Florida earlier this week, bitterly cold temperatures are expected to bring black ice to the roadways. 

Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan says Florida Highway Patrol troopers are out late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning helping motorists avoid treacherous spots on the roadways. 

He says if you encounter black ice, which often is impossible to see, take your foot off the gas, maintain steady steering and make sure to stay calm. He says if at all possible, stay on more heavily traveled main roads and avoid more remote areas. 

Bryan says he's happy people took this winter storm seriously and understands most people will be heading back to work. 

If you don't have to be on the roads, please avoid them if you can.

More cold weather shelters opening up in Northeast Florida, how to help

As the First Coast continues to deal with the winter storm system moving through, we're seeing new cold weather shelters opening up to help keep families warm and safe. 

In Baker County, the Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital at 159 N 3rd St in Macclenny opens at 3PM Wednesday. The Raiford Road Church at 9201 South SR 121 in Macclenny opens at 2PM Wednesday. For both locations, you should bring identification, blankets, snacks, and other items. 

In Nassau County, Hilliard Middle-Senior High opens as a shelter at 4PM. You’re asked to bring bed linen, medication, food, and anything else you may need for the night. 

In Duval, there are a few different shelter options: 

-The Salvation Army’s cold night shelter at 900 W. Adams Street is open through Friday. An additional shelter is open at 15 E. Church St, but it only accommodates men overnight. 

-The City Rescue Mission’s cold weather shelter on 234 W. State street is open. Guests can check into the shelter at 2:30 p.m. daily and check out at 10:30 the next morning or until temperatures climb above 40 degrees. 

-The Sulzbacher Center at 611 E. Adams Street is open. 

As many individuals are taking advantage of these shelters, the Salvation Army says it's in need of both volunteers and donations. 

Major Bert Tanner, Area Commander of the Salvation Army North Florida, says if you are interested in volunteering, they're in specific need of volunteers to be watchers overnight at the shelters and to help with feeding. 

As for donations, Tanner says they're in great need of socks, hats, gloves, as well as food. 

If you have donations, you can drop off the items at the Salvation Army shelter locations.

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