MACCLENNY, Fla. – Baker County commissioners are proposing a 5-cent per gallon tax on gasoline to pay for a new road that would connect the Walmart off State Road 228 by Interstate 10 to the Walmart Distribution Center off U.S. 90, about three miles away.
County officials hope Midpoint Parkway would get big trucks off U.S. 90 and help develop what is now wooded land east of Macclenney. But the county would need to raise millions of dollars to build the road since the state will only fund about one-third of the project.
"The connecting road would be prime economic development land, so that we could have stores, restaurants, industries, right along and adjacent to the I-10 freeway for economic development," Baker County Manager Ennie Downing said.
The new road would improve driving conditions for local traffic by diverting delivery trucks away from Macclenny and onto the new road, which would parallel I-10 and U.S. 90, which is showing wear from the heavy traffic.
"It becomes very dangerous for the road. It does wear and tear on the road," Downing said.
Downing said the proposed 5-cent gas tax would collect about $600,000 annually, and if the 5-cent tax doesn't pass, commissioners could pitch a 4-cent, or 3-cent tax.
Baker County residents News4Jax spoke with have mixed feelings about the tax.
"In my honest opinion, it's not worth it," Joshua Gaynay said. "Truth be told, we are a struggling county already, so any increases right now would be more hurtful than helpful."
"If it's going to help build a new road, I think it's a good thing," Mina Fox said. "If you increase taxes, then it really hurts a lot of people. But if you charge 5 cents (more) for gas, everyone will use the road, so why not pay for it?"