The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners gave County Administrator Randy Harris the go ahead at the financial workshop Thursday to discuss with the Florida Department of Transportation the possibilities of moving some funding from the Perimeter Road project to fund road improvements near the catalyst site in Western Suwannee County, where Klausner Lumber One plans to build a sawmill.
The proposed Perimeter Road will connect US 90 near CR 49 with US 129 North by way of 72nd Trace. The county has already filed all quick-take actions for the properties impacted by Perimeter Road. A quick-take hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 27.
County Attorney Jimmy Prevatt said he will present 10 proposals from landowners at the next county commission meeting for the board to take action on. The county will acquire the deeds to the remaining properties at the scheduled hearing, where the county will then obtain the titles to the properties.
Prevatt said construction on Perimeter Road is slated to begin this fiscal year. However, if some of the funding for the road itself is shifted to roads near the catalyst site, it could delay the construction.
Since Thursday’s meeting was only a workshop, no official action could be taken. However, Harris said if it was the consensus of the board, he would place the Perimeter Road project on the next county commission agenda to continue the discussion.
“I’ve questioned Perimeter Road many times,” stated Commissioner Phil Oxendine, who said he would be interested in looking into shifting the funding. Commissioner Clyde Fleming said the efforts of Perimeter Road was to move traffic, and he thinks the board should look at moving the funding as well.
The board consensually agreed to continue the discussion at the Nov. 5 county commission meeting.
If the request is approved by DOT, the county could seek to pave existing roads to develop a truck route to reduce the amount of semi trucks in downtown Live Oak.
“When we consider the volume (of trucks) that has been communicated to us in the various presentations made by Klausner, that’s going to be a lot of heavy truck traffic,” Harris said. “I agree with those commissioners I have spoken to we don’t need them going through our school zones, we don’t need them in the traffic circle.”
“We may need to go ahead and have this discussion and determine if Perimeter Road is a top priority for us right now,” said Harris. “We’ve got unpaved roads on that (catalyst) side of the county that could be paved and help keep some of this traffic out of downtown.”
He continued, “I wasn’t here when Perimeter Road was put on the board and considered as a major need for the county. But since I have been here, since all this emphasis has been on trying to figure out how to get 3,000 trucks a day across the county and out here to this catalyst site, I’ve had lots of people inquiring, and even some of you commissioners have asked, would it be a better use today of the funding DOT has provided to try to move that, maybe postpone Perimeter Road for a little bit longer if DOT would agree, and move the funds over to that side of the county where we need to try to figure out how to get log trucks to the catalyst site without coming through downtown Live Oak.”
Although no official action was taken, Harris said he would put the item on the agenda for the Nov. 5 county commission meeting so the county could take an official position on how to move forward.