Public gets scoop on Blanding widening

By Nick Blank
Posted 12/12/18

MIDDLEBURG – Florida Department of Transportation officials were on hand at the Middleburg Civic Association Monday to take questions from residents about $19.1 million improvements to Blanding …

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Public gets scoop on Blanding widening

Posted

MIDDLEBURG – Florida Department of Transportation officials were on hand at the Middleburg Civic Association Monday to take questions from residents about $19.1 million improvements to Blanding Boulevard.

The segment from Allie Murray Road to Long Bay Road on Blanding Boulevard, about 2 miles, will be widened to six lanes beginning in January and running through the spring of 2021.

Construction includes adding a six-foot sidewalk and four-foot bike lanes on both sides, traffic signal replacements, adding street lights, and construction of new drainage, inlets and ponds. Medians will also be slimmed to allow for the roadway widening and construction of the curb. Intersections between County Road 220 and Long Bay Road will be realigned on Blanding. The contractor is St. Augustine-based R.B. Baker Construction Company.

Many residents grabbed a handout, scrutinized renderings and asked DOT officials about different projects or discussed traffic problems elsewhere in the county.

Clint Capps, an engineer at Arcadis, a design and consulting agency that worked with the DOT designing the improvements was available to answer residents’ questions.

“We don’t want everybody to be surprised when something starts happening in the road in front of their house,” Capps said. “If we have the public’s support everything goes better.”

It’s no secret that the county is experiencing a serious amount of growth. The road has to be up to par, Capps said.

“In general, [the improvements are] about safety and capacity,” he said. “DOT looks at traffic numbers today and looks at what they’re going to be down the road. Wherever we see the need is where we would do a project like this.”

Harold Hatcher, a lifelong Middleburg resident, said he welcomed the improvements.

“They need the new road. They needed six lanes instead of three lanes,” Hatcher said. “I kind of like it myself. It’ll be here before you know it.”

Tammy Padgett said she appreciated the open house format, which was question and answer instead of canned presentation.

“I like this kind of setup, it's easier,” Padgett said. “You can question them about the road.”

Will Lyons, a DOT project manager, said improving capacity by adding lanes will increase the capacity for motorists.

“Open houses work well for us. For this point, to make major changes isn’t really the purpose of it. We have meetings during the design process, too,” Lyons said. “This a meeting to say, ‘Here it comes.’ This is a pretty straightforward project.”

A DOT press release said the project is a continuation of similar efforts to widen Blanding Boulevard, such as the segment of Blanding Boulevard from Old Jennings Road to Branan Field Road and south to Allie Murray Road, which increased to six lanes.

“Motorists should anticipate similar, occasional lane closures necessary during construction once it begins,” the DOT release advised. “Standard overnight lane closure times may be adjusted as-needed based on work schedules, weather and traffic flow levels.”

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