Residents give input on Blanding Boulevard expansion


ORANGE PARK, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation says it's considering the public's input on a $32 million construction project that is slated to begin in 2015, adding two lanes to Blanding Boulevard.

Transportation officials say they plan to add two lanes to Blanding Boulevard between Old Jennings Road and County Road 218 in Middleburg. Right now they are in the planning stages and looking for the community's feedback on the project.

A public forum was to be held Monday in Orange Park.

"It's a nightmare right now, bumper-to-bumper traffic in and out all the time," said Emmett Britts, a resident of the area since 1971.

Other locals agree. Margaret Moritz said she was going to let her voice be heard at the meeting because she said although the project is good for growth, she doesn't want it to affect her church at the intersection of Blanding and Old Jennings.

"It's getting packed," she said. "There's so much traffic here, so you have to have it easily flowing, and that's what they're doing."

Other commuters don't see a reason for the project.

"I travel this every day. I really don't think congestion is that bad through there," said Kristy Helms, who works in Middleburg.

In addition to expanding Blanding, FDOT also wants to rebuild the intersection of Blanding and Branan Field Road.

Construction will also include adding bike lanes, lighting, upgrading traffic signals and removal of medians.

Most residents say they think the expansion is because the recent growth in the area.

"They're expecting more traffic with the hospital opening up, so that's probably what they're preparing for," one resident said.

"This place, it's exploded with apartment complexes and housing developments, and that's progress," Britts said.

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