STARKE, Fla. – The long-awaited Starke Truck Route is officially open.
After two years of construction, the bypass on U.S. 301 is complete.
"Now that we see the streets are cleared. That, 'Oh, those trucks are just going by,' they weren't stopping here anyway," said Kristina Libby, the owner of Libby Massage & Wellness in downtown Starke.
The Starke Truck Route has been open for less than a week, but the city of Starke is already feeling its impact.
Local residents and business owners said it is significantly easier to get around places like downtown Starke with the new route in place for tractor-trailers that are just passing through the area.
Some business owners say this is a positive impact for the city.
"They can now see our town. Now that it's not cluttered with a whole bunch of trucks. So people are starting to take a look around and realize the businesses that are there. And I think that that is bringing awareness to local businesses from our local community," Libby said. "And the fact that you don't have to fight traffic to get to a restaurant downtown or to get to your massage that people are willing to get more out and about."
The new four-lane highway creates a roughly 7 mile detour around the city of Starke.
The Florida Department of Transportation said the goal of the new route is to create a quicker, safer route for residents and traditional traffic by reducing the semi-truck traffic.
Starke business staples like Powell's Dairy Freeze, which has been in the city for nearly 45 years, said less traffic in the city is one of the best things that could have happened.
"Well there's a lot less attitudes. For one, nobody's mad because their sitting in traffic. Things just run a lot smoother. They just in and out, don't have no issues. I don't think it's going to impact our business, most of our business is local. But it has cleared out traffic a lot," said Angela Mosley, manager of Powell's Dairy Freeze.
"Between Gainesville, Jacksonville, Lake City and Palatka we're right in the middle. There's no reason why we can't be a booming town. I got nothing but joy and excitement," said Libby.
Only time will tell the true impact of this new route to the city of Starke, but for right now, businesses in the area appreciate being seen.