BCC moves closer to $130 million overhaul of roads

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GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Board of County Commissioners moved one step closer to beginning work on an extensive road project funded by $130 million worth of bonds.

The BCC held a workshop last Tuesday to discuss in detail the six projects in mind. This project consists of four fixes to road links in the county deemed deficient and one road linked deemed critical. It also includes what the county is calling a First Coast Connection.

“The First Coast Connection connects [U.S. Highway 17] to the First Coast Expressway,” County Manager Howard Wanamaker said.

The bond project previously included talk of turning roads like County Road 220 into six lanes, but Wanamaker said the community has been clear: Clay County doesn’t want any more six-lane roads.

That means the project, despite how drastic its changes will be, will see all of its roads categorized as either suburban, urban or rural, which translates to, at most, the projects will bring result into new four-lane roads.

Two of the projects, Sandridge Road from Henley Road to Country Road 209 and C.R. 209 from Sandridge Road to C.R. 315B, will increase two-lane roads to three-lane roads. These two projects have a cost of roughly $25.6 million and $16.5 million, respectively.

Elsewhere in the county, three two-lane roads will grow to become four-lane roads. They are: C.R. 218 from Pine Tree Lane to Cosmos Avenue, C.R. 220 from Baxley Road to Henley Road and C.R. Road 209 from C.R. 315B to U.S. 17. Those carry costs $20.4 million, $12.4 million and $9.3 million, respectively.

The First Coast Connection will increase the road from U.S. 17 to C.R. 315 from two lanes to a 1.6-mile stretch of four lanes for a cost of $15.2 million. That’s a stretch of 1.6 miles. A new two-lane road connecting C.R. 315 to the First Coast Expressway, for to 2.9 miles, will also be built as part of the connection for $24.8 million. The total cost of the First Coast Connection project is $40 million.

Most of these projects include stormwater drains, ditches and gutters alongside the roads and some include sidewalks and other pedestrian-focused amenities.

“These [projects] are all on a five-year timeline,” Wanamaker said.

The county is taking out $130 million in bonds to cover the cost of this project, but the grand total for the construction is $124.2 million. Commissioner Gavin Rollins said the board anticipates putting the leftover $5.8 million in reserves. He also said the road projects won’t dismiss other road work like repaving and the paving of dirt roads. That will still happen during all of this as the two do not affect each other.

All of the projects will happen concurrently and not on a staggered timeline. Wanamaker said drivers can expect increased traffic as a result, but he said the final product will alleviate the traffic problems currently plaguing the targeted areas.

The public still can’t voice its opinion at the Feb. 11 BCC meeting. The final vote will be at the Feb. 25 meeting.

“People will like it and people won’t,” Commission Chairman Gayward Hendry said. “I notice once you deal with something a while, it’s not as painful as when you start. Your body and mind acclimatize to whatever was negative to start with and I think that’s what we’re going to experience with this.”

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