CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - A number of Clay County businesses are still feeling the effects of a road closure that took up a large part of June.
From June 8-18, County Road 220 was shut down at the railroad tracks near College Drive for maintenance on the CSX track.
The road is critical to people who live everywhere from Middleburg to Fleming Island.
The detour caused significant issues for drivers who had to drive up to Kingsley Avenue in Orange Park to bypass construction -- a roughly a 30-minute drive.
The railroad tracks are all repaired, but the damage the project did to local businesses still needs some repair.
Debbie Knotts, with Round Robin Consignments, told News4Jax that the construction cut their business, literally, in half. Knotts said it’s not an easy thing for a small business to deal with.
“It was just dead overnight,” Knotts said. “No business. People couldn’t get through. It was just bad.”
Customers west of the railroad tracks said they weren’t willing to drive an extra 30 minutes each way to shop, crippling business for 10 days.
“Everyone around here on College (Street), it was the same way for us. Nothing we could do,” Knotts said.
Across the tracks at Whitey’s Fish Camp, the story was little better. Co-owner Danielle Lawley said they only lost 20 percent of their business during the construction project.
Lawley said she questions why a road project would ever be approved that would cut such a major artery through a county for a week and a half.
“I can’t believe there wasn’t some alternate route that wasn’t shorter. Maybe they could’ve closed some part of the railroad track and let traffic go through? Adding 30 to 45 minutes to a commute is insane,” Lawley said
News4Jax reached out to CSX, which issued the following statement in response:
CSX works to minimize the impact of our operations on local communities, and we apologize for any inconvenience the recent work in Clay County may have caused. CSX works with local road authorities in advance of projects like that to plan detours that help to limit the effect on residents and businesses alike, and all traffic-control measures are approved by local authorities in advance of the project. CSX does not have any authority to restrict traffic without approval by local agencies. If businesses believe they were unfairly impacted by this project their first appeal should be to Clay County authorities, who can help review the situation. CSX will be glad to participate in that review.
County Commissioner Gavin Rollins told News4Jax that county engineers told them CSX informed them all lanes needed to be closed to make the repairs.
Commissioner Gayward Hendry released the following statement:
"We were told that when CSX does that type of repair they have to lay solid track across the highway. They cannot lay one side and then the other and weld them together. That makes sense since vehicles impacting the weld will comprise the joint."
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