When traveling in any unfamiliar area, sometimes road name changes make it almost impossible to determine where a desired destination begins and ends. If traveling to the Jacksonville/Atlantic Beach/Jacksonville Beach areas, one of these roads is State Road 116, formerly known as Wonderwood Road.
For those unfamiliar with the route: State Road 116 (SR 116) is a Florida State Route in the U.S. state of Florida, running almost due east-west entirely in the Duval County. It runs from an intersection with SR 9A/SR 113 (Southside Connector)/Merrill Road on the east shore of the St. Johns River to an intersection with SR 101 (Mayport Road) just south of Naval Station Mayport. It is sometimes known as Wonderwood Road (the original routing from just west of SR A1A to SR 101 (Mayport Road), Wonderwood Expressway, or Wonderwood Boulevard, however, those terms are more prevalent among locals and are not supported by any designated road signage .
Along the route of SR 116, it has major intersections with St. Johns Bluff Road, Monument Road, Kernan Boulevard, and Girvin Road.
SR 116 is known as Wonderwood Boulevard for much of its run through Jacksonville. Sections of the route are known as Merrill Road, Ft. Caroline Road, and McCormick Road, as SR 116 has replaced the route of these roads.
Due to rapid growth in the East Arlington/Hecksher Drive areas in about a ten year period, the need for a connection from the I-295/SR 9A corridor to Naval Station Mayport was noticed years ago. First, traffic for commuters from the rest of the Jacksonville area to the naval base had gotten horrendous over the years due to the Atlantic Boulevard bridge’s over use as the one and only direct route to the base. Sometimes, the back-ups would take hours to clear, and with the rapid growth in the area, combined with the need for another Hurricane Evacuation Route, a new bridge was a necessity. Second, the base needed a more-direct route from the corridor since it was easy for new people to the area to get lost on previous directions from exits on SR 9A (i.e. SR 10 (Atlantic Boulevard) and Monument Road.
The improvements to — and subsequent de-facto replacement of — Merrill Road, Ft. Caroline Road, and McCormick Road occurred in stages. However, these streets are still in use today and are designated by signage still displayed on the road (look for side street signs to check the intersection if you are unsure of which part of the road you are on).
The current construction project, segment three, was started July 5, 2006. It includes widening the already existing road from two to four lanes, dividing it with a landscaped median, and adding bike lanes and sidewalks. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008. Other segments of the project are expected to be completed at a later date.