Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville Interchange Spiral

Must form and function forever remain at odds? Not if the Florida Department of Transportation has its way. 

Under normal circumstances, transportation infrastructure isn’t the sexiest component of the modern world. But there’s something unearthly about symmetry, especially when it surfaces in mundane places. Take, for instance, this exquisite highway interchange in one of America’s most maligned states. 

It would seem a team of Florida’s engineers took the most graceful approach possible to designing the interchange at I-295 and State Route 202. Sometimes referred to as a “whirlpool” or “wash basin” interchange, the intersection was completed in 2008 at a total cost of $80 million dollars, smoothing the commute between Jacksonville’s beltway and Butler Boulevard, the latter of which was nicknamed the “road to nowhere” when first opened in 1979 due to light use and the once-undeveloped nature of the areas it serviced. 

The final structure blends form and function so smoothly that the interchange has garnered national attention from above, leading some to wonder whether its serene balance of concrete, locked in a perpetual dance, weren’t an act of Photoshop wizardry. Throngs of cars zoom along its serpentine arms and carefully intertwined on- and off-ramps, indifferent to the elegance over which they’re moving.

While factors like speed, safety, and gravity were of utmost concern to the professionals in charge of designing this interchange, just this once, the results exceeded basic levels of those expectations to magnificent effect. All but unnoticed to the streams of motorists passing by, its perfect marriage of aesthetics and practicality remains a treasure rarely appreciated by those except infrastructure enthusiasts and the occasional precocious bird circling aloft. 

Contributed by
Josh
Edited by