JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – East Arlington resident have expressed outrage, saying a huge construction project is wreaking havoc right behind their homes.
The construction is related to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority's Girvin Road project. But residents who live in the Lena's Walk subdivision said they had no idea that acres of trees would be knocked down to make a retention pond.
"I bought this for tranquility and peace. And now it's turning into the apocalypse," said Jacque Cottrell, who lives near the construction project. "I woke up Monday morning and everything just imploded. My house was shaking. Trees were falling. I woke up thinking, 'Oh my God. Is it an earthquake?' Tractor-trailers, everything."
Neighbors said they knew that the road widening was going to happen, but no one told them that all of the trees would be ripped out for a pond.
"You're running us out of our homes. So I told them, 'The least thing you could do is what you are doing and how you are doing it.' But it seems like no one cares," Cottrell said.
Lena's Walk Homeowners Association President Donna Beasley said she's been talking with the City Council members for the district, as well as JTA. She said she's been promised that it wouldn't be this bad.
"It's horrible. We had a conservation area when our homes were sold to us and we were told it would never be destroyed because it was in wetlands. And in one, two, three days, they have been totally destroyed," Beasley said. "I think that it was poor planning, poor communication with the city, with the residents of the city."
The homeowners association has asked JTA to put a fountain in the retention pond to keep the water moving and hopefully keep mosquitoes away.
"And we're going to get a mosquito pond. Thank you. We appreciate that, especially with Zika coming," Beasley said.
News4Jax reached out to JTA for comment and a spokesperson sent the following statement:
“Girvin Road is the third project and first major roadway construction project under the JTAMobilityWorks program. The scope includes widening the existing roadway to five lanes between Atlantic Boulevard and Ashley Melisse Boulevard and three lanes between Ashley Melisse Boulevard and McCormick Road. The project includes curb and gutter, center turn lanes, stormwater ponds, sidewalks and bike lanes. Upon completion, the project will improve capacity and traffic conditions through the roadway corridor. Prior to construction, JTA conducted a robust public information campaign that included a public meeting, road signage and advertising. This week we met with several homeowners in the area and heard their concerns about the removal of trees near their homes. We are working with the residents to develop a plan to lessen the effect, but still maintain the integrity of the project.”
For more information about the Girvin Road project, click here.