|Table set for votes on closure of Barber Road, sand mining|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:36|
The Baker County Commission is poised to vote on closing the substandard bridge that connects the eastern and western portions of Barber Road between SRs 121 and 228 in the south county.
The board will consider a resolution the evening of May 21 that would direct county staff to erect barricades, signs and markings to “inhibit any or all access by the public to the Barber Road Bridge” while still maintaining and retaining ownership of the structure.
The resolution cites numerous concerns and complaints expressed by the residents on Barber Road and the commission’s primary goal to protect public safety as justification for the proposed bridge closure.
Several years ago, at the urging of those living on the thoroughfare, the county erected “Closed to Through Traffic” signs at either end of the county-owned portion of the roughly half-mile connector.
The eastern half under county jurisdiction is dirt while the western portion is paved and within the City of Macclenny limits.
But the signs didn’t work and drivers kept coming, residents told commissioners last March when they requested further steps be taken.
Beyond the increase in traffic volume that accompanied the arrival of the Walmart Supercenter, they complained about drivers throwing trash out of vehicles, speeding and ignoring the three-way stop where Barber Road turns sharply to the northeast toward the bridge over Turkey Creek.
The Barber Road bridge was first built in 1941 and reconstructed 40 years later. After its last inspection by the Florida Department of Transportation in September, 2011, it was given a sufficiency rating of 63.3 on a 100-point scale and deemed “functionally obsolete.”
The bridge is too narrow for more than one vehicle to traverse Turkey Creek at a time and it lacks railings to keep vehicles from driving off the side into Turkey Creek.
Though county commissioner Michael Crews is the only board member to express outright support for closing the bridge, other commissioners have said they would condition closure on the county maintaining the bridge to ensure emergency vehicles will have quick access to homes in the area.
Last month, when commissioners agreed to hold next week’s public hearing on the closure, they talked about blocking public access with a locked gate and providing keys to first responders and other county personnel.
Still, there are many county residents who use Barber Road for its convenience, and some will likely attend next week’s hearing to voice their opposition to closure, particularly if public funds will still be used to grade the road and keep the bridge stable.
“I think if residents want Barber Road to be closed to the public they should be ready to foot the bill for maintenance on the road,” posted Anna Bell of Macclenny on The Press’ Facebook page in April.
“I don’t want my taxes going toward a road I’m not allowed to use. I don’t use it much but sometimes I’m right there on 121 and headed to Walmart so I take it,” she wrote. “I don’t speed or endanger anyone or anything. People use my road as a cut through all the time and speed and run the stop sign in front of my house where my three kids and pet live. [But] I’m not asking to close the road.”
In other business during the public hearings scheduled for 6 pm on May 21, the county board will consider two sand mining plans — one northeast of the Walmart Distribution Center and the second on the DuPont mining tract in the southern county east of SR 228 S.
The companies proposing to mine the dirt, E.R. Jahna, Inc. and Old Castle Southern Group, have applied for special exceptions to do so in the agricultural zoning districts where the mining would take place because such activity is normally prohibited there.
While there are no homes near the tract being mined by Old Castle Southern, three residential subdivisions lie immediately south of the site E.R. Jahna intends to mine for course sand.
The county Land Planning Agency recommended approval of the twin mining proposals late last month, as did county Planning and Zoning Director Ed Preston.
|Last Updated on Friday, 11 May 2012 11:49|