CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Thousands of Clay County residents said they’re basically trapped by ongoing construction near their homes.
Residents living in Lake Asbury said they are concerned they can’t get to stores easily for food and gas or get out of their neighborhoods in the event of an emergency.
The uproar comes following the shutdown of traffic from busy Sandridge Road to Henley Road which has cut multiple neighborhoods off. Sandridge Road at the intersection of Henley Road in front of Lake Asbury Junior High School is now blocked making it difficult for those in the area to access their only close shopping area.
Residents said they are now left with one road in and out that has increased a two-minute drive to a 30-minute drive.
Lake Asbury locals who spoke with News4JAX said they can’t understand the thought process behind the project.
“It is absolutely a nightmare,” Lake Asbury resident Donielle Luciania said. “Everybody out here is irate. I’m sure I can speak for everybody that lives off of Sandridge.”
Residents are now left with the long and narrow Sandridge Road or Russell Road, both of which are not good options for congested traffic. Another problem? Over the next few weeks there are expected to be lane closures there, too.
“We’re pretty much cut off from everything being in Lake Asbury,” resident Mandy Berry said. “Now we would have to go to Fleming Island or downtown Green Cove [Springs] which is not very convenient for all of us. I’m a teacher and I’m home all summer now I feel like I’m being restricted to stay in my home and do nothing.”
News4JAX spoke to Ed Dendor who’s the project administrator for the county and he said the project comes after years of planning.
“I think some of the frustration from the neighborhood that’s coming in is really from the neighbors that are having to go through a detour if you will,” said Dendor, Clay County Bond Transportation Program Administrator.
Dendor said the extra drive time is not as bad as some residents feel it is.
“It’s not a 30-minute detour. From Henley to Sandridge all the way back to Russell, it’s two-and-a-half miles. So assuming you’re doing the speed limit, we have a lot of people that live in and around those neighborhoods and add an extra five minutes.” Dendor said.
Neighbors question if it’s really that quick when rush hour happens and there are big backups.
And while News4JAX was out in the area on Thursday several drivers were seen driving around barricades.
“I’ve seen a lot of folks also speed on the roads, cross lanes, run stop signs. It’s illegal. That’s enforceable. Again, Clay County Sheriff’s Office is out there,” Dendor said.
The county said it hopes to have the project completed before students return to school because it’s right in front of Lake Asbury Junior High.
The county also stressed that law enforcement and emergency responses to the area will not be impacted. CCSO and Clay County Fire Rescue leadership discussed emergency response to the affected area ahead of the closure, leaders said, and have predetermined routes.