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Culvert repairs cause headaches for Oakleaf drivers


ORANGE PARK, Fla. – A traffic nightmare in the Oakleaf area continues to frustrate residents. A construction project has closed all northbound lanes of Oakleaf Village Parkway between Silver Bluff Boulevard and Oakworth Court.

Some drivers told News4Jax they were stuck in traffic for hours Tuesday on Oakleaf Village Parkway. Officers with the Clay County Sheriff's Office will be back out Wednesday morning directing traffic from 6-10 a.m.

All northbound lanes of the parkway are closed for emergency culvert repair and drivers were forced to make a U-turn at Silver Bluff Boulevard.

Last month, the southbound lanes were blocked while a culvert was repaired, and last year, the Oakleaf overpass was suddenly closed and the culvert underneath had to be replaced after a failed inspection.

"There's nothing that could be done,” Steve Palmeter said. “The contractor that put the culvert in screwed it up."

There are dozens of residential developments, three schools and a shopping center in the area, and drivers said they've had enough.

"The traffic was literally 5 miles stopped, from Phase 2 to the back of Oakleaf,” Palmeter said.

News4Jax was flooded with phone calls and email complaints about the gridlock that drivers were stuck in Tuesday morning. Many students were either late for school or their parents kept them home.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office also had deputies posted throughout the area directing traffic.

"It's just been a nuisance for neighbors,” Jubette Chan said. “(It's) the worst it's ever been. … I literally had to park my car in the driveway and run to my destination."

Several residents said the situation is unacceptable and they are concerned about emergency situations.

"My biggest concern as a mom and grandmother is the fact that if there's an emergency, rescue won't be able to get in and out,” Chan said.

"I'm frustrated because the county didn't do a good job of planning,” Palmeter said.

"What they need to do to fix this problem is to make the southbound lanes in both directions. Make it a two-way street,” Chan said.

The culvert repairs are expected to last about a month.

The Clay County Public Works department held a meeting Tuesday morning with the construction company and the Sheriff's Office to make adjustments and said it will be implementing changes in regards to the road closures and detours soon.