Cedar Key bridge, sidewalk among state road projects

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By Lou Elliott Jones

Officials with the state Department of Transportation's District 2 office in Lake City came to the Levy County Commission meeting on Tuesday and while it was not like Christmas Day, their assurances on a proposed five-year plan for road construction in Levy were warmly greeted. 

Greg Evans, secretary for District 2, said his office covers all the state roads and bridges in 18 counties and their 2 million residents. He said the district employs 750 people who maintain 7,200 lane miles and 1,206 bridges.

Right now, he said, the district has over 80 construction projects under way valued at $900 million. 

But he was at the commission meeting on Tuesday with a person more familiar to the commision Jordan Green, District 2 project engineer. 

Green said the visit is part of an annual presentation of the proposed five-year project plan for the county that includes bridges and sidewalks for Cedar Key, the bike and pedestrian path in Yankeetown,  landscaping and improved railroad crossing for Williston, resurfacing from Otter Creek to Bronson, and a traffic signal update at Walmart in Chiefland. 

The plan also includes work on the airports at Cedar Key and Williston. 

Green said the district is hosting an open house on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 2-6 p.m. to present the plans for all the projects in the district. 

And while the commission was grateful to see the project list, Commission Chair Ryan Bell ODF Chiefland (R-District 4) said one problem that vexes Levy County residents is the path to work in Alachua County. 

Bell asked if something could be done about the congestion encountered by commuters on State Road 26 through Gilchrist County and Newberry. 

Renate Cannon asked Green if he had considered putting in a bypass around Newberry. 

Green said a bypass may or may not be the solution, “We understand there may be some congestion and we have got some other ideas for improving it without building a complete bypass.”

In the meantime, here are the major projects for fiscal years 2015-2019 presented by Green:

Bronson – 11 miles of State Road 24 from the intersection at U.S. Highway 19 east to the Bronson city limits will be resurfaced over a 3-year period with $5.885 million work being done in the 2015 fiscal year starting July 1, 2014. Smaller portions of the project will be done in the following two year. 

Cedar Key – The bridge over the No. 3 channel on State Road 24 will undergo repairs and rehabilitation over a four year period with construction starting in FY 2016 while bridge replacements are slated for the Lewis Pass and Daughtry Bayou  in FY2017. The department is acquiring right of way for the two bridges in FY 215-2016. A sidewalk between the bridges over Channel No. 3 and Channel No. 4 will be under construction in 2016 and 2016. 

Chiefland – Drainage improvements will be made on U.S. Highway 19 between 4th and 5th avenue with planning and engineering in the next two years, while planning will begin in FY 2015 on updating the traffic control on U.S. 19 at the Walmart. 

Williston – A railroad crossing on State Road 121 near 200th Street will be rebuilt in FY 2015. While CR 335 from SR 121 to CR 343 will be resurfaced and CR343 from CR241 to U.S. Highway 27 will be widened and resurfaced in FY2017. 

Yankeetown – A sidewalk from the Yankeetown General Store to the existing end of the sidewalk County Road is in the planning and engineering stage in 2015 and will be constructed in FY2017. County Road 40 will also get a bike lane and sidewalk from Bird Creek Park to 63rd Street  with planning, design and engineering in FY 2015. 

Work on the two airports includes:

• George T. Lewis in Cedar Key will get a parking apron, safety upgrade and replacement of the rotating beacon and windsock. 

• Williston Municipal Airport will get fencing, apron reconstruction, and design and construction of a corporate hangar and new taxiway.