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Tree removal angers Mandarin residents

Resident calls tree removal for I-295 expansion project 'heartbreaking'

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some residents in Mandarin are upset with the Florida Department of Transportation after construction work on a five-mile stretch of Interstate 295 led to the destruction of a large number of trees.

Groups are calling for action by FDOT to address concern arising from projects impacting landscape and the Mandarin community.
 
"The noise is so loud we can barely hear ourselves and we are within one or two feet of each other," said Susan Caven, president of Scenic Jacksonville Inc. "What if you lived here? What if you lived along the 5-mile road of 295 and this is what you get?
 
Construction along a 5.7-mile stretch of I-295, just east of the Buckman Bridge and just west of I-95, has locals angry because FDOT has knocked down hundreds of trees, leaving an empty field eyesore..
 
"They have worked so hard for so long to keep a look in Mandarin," Caven said. "And they are so proud of their trees and to come and just mow them down is such a blow."
 
The current six lanes are being expanded to ten travel lanes, including toll lanes. Heidi Chanatry has lived in Mandarin since 1985 and said the cleared land is devastating.
 
"It was shocking; it was heartbreaking to see what they had done," Chanatry said.
 
Jacksonville Environmental and Civic Organizations say they want FDOT to:

  • Fully mitigate for the environmental damage created by the project
  • Ensure the new sound walls will be green and decorative.  
  • Ensure all revenues from the toll scheme stay in Jacksonville. 
  • Ensure landscaping plans are prepared and are available for review at the front end of future toll projects. 
  • Undertake a closer review of the need for toll lanes
  •  
    FDOT said it will consider the community's complaints.
     
    "We will take the input and our folks will look at it and do what we can with it and we listen to the concerns," FDOT spokesman Ron Tittle said. "We are concerned."

    Tittle said FDOT did hold a public meeting and shared its plans with about 100 people who showed up.
     
    The project just started and is supposed to be complete in 2016. 


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