CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - The Florida Department of Transportation is working on a road project in the area of Branan Field Road in Clay County to make it a safer place for drivers and pedestrians.
The project started last month, nearly a year after a 13-year-old Middleburg boy was killed in a hit-and-run crash along Branan Field, just south of Trail Ridge Road.
DOT officials, however, say the boy's death is not what sparked the project. They said it's been in talks for a while to make the area safer.
People who live near Branan Field Road say it's been a dangerous place for a long time because of the lack of traffic lights, increased traffic and speeders.
Edward Perves has lived off Branan Field since 1978, back when he says it used to be a dirt road and Blanding Boulevard was only one lane.
"We got no say, so they come in, they cut down all the trees, taking away property now as state easement," the Middleburg resident said. "We got no control. We can't call the governor. He ain't going to talk to us."
Perves said traffic gets backed up from Old Jennings Road for about two miles.
"When I go to work in the morning, I will sit at that stop sign for 15 minutes to turn right," Perves said. "And turning left, you can forget it. You're taking your life in your hands."
Sidewalks and bicycle lanes are included in the project in hopes of making it safer for pedestrians. The death of 13-year-old Brien Alvezios (pictured above) on Branan Field Road is still fresh in residents' minds, including Perves'.
"Just like the kid on the bicycle who got killed less than a mile away, we used to ride our bikes," he said. "We don't ride our bikes no more."
Alvezios' family was unavailable to comment on this story Thursday. They did talk about the loss of their son several months ago.
"He took my baby from me. He took my baby from me," Jenny Alvezios, the boy's mother, said of the hit-and-run driver.
Perves said accidents happen on the road too frequently, and he hopes the sidewalk and bike lanes help in limiting them.
The project starts at Old Jennings Road and ends just north of Oak Leaf Plantation Parkway. The construction should be over by late 2013.
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