CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Now that the Clay County Fair is over, we’re getting a look at the only road in and out of the fair that spawned some controversy when drivers were backed up several hours to get into the fair.
The 10-day fair had the usual bad traffic during peak times on State Road 16, but that became excessive on Sunday, April 3, when an overflowed parking lot contributed to bad backups.
Related: Afternoon traffic moves at snail’s pace for Clay County Fair
Some News4jax viewers lamented they were in traffic for well over three hours to get to the fair.
The parking lot problem was remedied the next day but drivers were concerned about SR-16 going forward being that it’s historically only been a two-lane highway in and out of the fair which draws tens of thousands of people.
The only real fix to the traffic issue will be coming in 2025, that’s the estimated completion of the First Coast Expressway in Clay County. There is an overpass for the Expressway just West of the Fairgrounds. While that won’t widen SR 16, it will be a major thoroughfare that runs near the fairgrounds.
“I think it will definitely be an improvement in just getting people where they want to go,” said Sara Pleasants with the Florida Department of Transportation. “When you’ve got people coming from outside the area. Certainly, the first coast expressway is going to alleviate some of the congestion that drivers in clay county currently see on other roadways.”
News4Jax also spoke with locals who live in the neighborhoods along State Road 16 as it runs close to the Fairgrounds. They said this year wasn’t excessively bad compared to other fairs, but on the day of the 3rd, it was noticeably bad.
“It took me about an hour to get home,” said resident Troupe Johns. “Normally once I get to 315 I cut through the ditch, ride out all the way to my street.”
While the overpass could help congestion, State Road 16 will stay narrow for now. FDOT said the public will need to contact county and state leaders if they want to see any widening of this road.