Joyce Marie Taylor
Rural Area Transportation Development Engineer Jordan Green and District 2 Secretary Greg Evans from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) gave a presentation on their five-year work plan at a recent meeting of the Lafayette County Board of County Commissioners.
Evans has held his position with FDOT for about two years for District 2 which covers 18 Northeast Florida counties that encompasses a population of about 2 million people.
FDOT District 2 employs 750 people and operates out of 10 facilities across the district, with their district headquarters in Lake City. It’s the largest FDOT district in Florida; not highest in population, but geographically they cover the largest area. They maintain and improve about 8,200 miles of highway and 1,206 bridges, six of which are removable.
“It’s one heck of a group of people that we work with here,” said Evans.
As Evans stated in a similar presentation recently to the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners, “During Governor Scott’s term in office, and other state elected officials, we’ve been stressed to continue being an economic development agency for the state. We are working hard today to relay this message and carry out this mission. We are striving to build the most efficient transportation system possible,” he added.
Evans said they continually look for the right project to build with the best rate of return that will help move freight and raw materials in and out on the state and interstate roadway systems, including rural areas. The goal is to generate profits for local industries, he added.
Many urbanized areas seem to get a lot of FDOT’s attention because of their population concentration, Evans explained, but rural counties, he said, are in need, as well, and he is pushing to increase funding for them.
“You can tell by my accent I grew up in Route One-Nowhere,” he said. “I understand and appreciate the difficulties in coming up with funding for transportation-related projects.”
There are over 80 active FDOT construction contracts being managed right now in District 2 for a total cost of over $900 million. Those tax dollars support thousands of jobs in the construction and consulting industry.
Upcoming projects in Lafayette County are the Kettle Creek Bridge replacement on SR 51, which is still on schedule, US 27 resurfacing for 2016 that includes improving the intersection at SR 51 in Mayo, and in 2015, SR 51 on up to the Suwannee County line is scheduled to be resurfaced. SCRAP and SCOP projects in the coming years include CR 405, NE Rowan Road and CR 490, CR 425, SE McCray Road and CR 480.
Sheriff Brian Lamb asked if the FDOT could make some adjustments to the school zone when they start resurfacing US 27 by making the turning lanes longer and possibly adding a turn lane coming from the east. Traffic gets bottlenecked around the schools before and after school, Lamb explained. Green said he would pass along the information to his traffic operation personnel to take a look at it.
“That’s a problem right there twice a day,” said Commissioner Donnie Hamlin.
The five-year work program public hearing cycle began Thursday, Dec. 5, at FDOT’s district office in Lake City with an open house informal discussion. County officials, as well as the general public were welcome to attend.
A required formal public hearing was held the following Monday in Jacksonville, on Dec. 9.