Public invited to weigh in on long-awaited Old Middleburg Road widening
A two-lane road on Duval County's Westside may finally get widened to four lanes, and on Monday, residents are invited to an informal meeting to hear about the project's status.
The tree-canopied and winding Old Middleburg Road can make for a beautiful yet frustrating drive. With no bike lane and no sidewalks, the road has been a concern for area residents for decades, said District 14 City Councilman Rahman Johnson.
"This is a project that people knew 20 years ago needed to be widened," the newly elected official said in an interview Friday. "And 20 years ago, Oakleaf Plantation didn't exist. Now it does."
He said it is absolutely needed for people and emergency crews to navigate the area safely.
The project is also important to former City Councilman John Draper, who Johnson successfully ran against for the office.
Draper, a vocal advocate for the road widening project, agreed that growth in the area makes the project necessary.
“After more than 20 years, I’m looking forward to seeing the plans and, most importantly, starting the project," Draper said in a press release issued by Johnson's office.
Part of the Better Jacksonville Plan that uses funding from gas taxes, the Old Middleburg Road project, from 103rd Street to Argyle Forest Boulevard, is expected to widen the road to four lanes and include a multi-use path, according to a 2020 North Florida Transportation Planning Organization long range transportation plan through 2045. At the time of that report, construction costs were estimated to be more than $21 million, including right-of-way acquisition, planning and engineering and construction costs. The city’s website says improvements also include signalization improvements and a bridge replacement.
Johnson said roughly $30 million is now earmarked for the project, as time has passed and costs have more than likely increased.
"Clearly, with inflation, that number has changed," Johnson said. "I'm also told that the program will probably be done in two phases. And the $30 (million) will probably cover the first phase, but we will probably have to look at what we need to do to augment that."
The councilman wants people who are interested in the outcome of this project to come out to the meeting Monday evening. He said engineering consultants and representatives from the Public Works Department will be on hand to answer questions.
The meeting will be held Monday, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Argyle Branch Library, at 7973 Old Middleburg Road S. in Jacksonville.
For those who cannot attend, written comments can be mailed to Jason Hall, a project manager, with England-Thims & Miller, 14775 Old St. Augustine Road, Jacksonville 32258 or emailed to Hall at email@example.com.
Written comments must be postmarked or mailed by July 21, 2023, to become part of the official meeting record. There will be no formal presentation, but exhibits will be on display, according to the city.
"I want to make sure that everyone knows that we're as transparent as possible," Johnson said, “but most importantly, that people feel like they have input."