Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Sidewalks Get Public Input; Fruit Cove Road Walkways to Be 5 Feet Wide

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Sidewalks Get Public Input; Fruit Cove Road Walkways to Be 5 Feet Wide

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Staff writer

Dozens of Fruit Cove Road residents at a town meeting got a closer look at a county plan to install 5-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of the winding road starting later next year.

Residents were able to look at the proposed 2.6-mile sidewalk route on a series of aerial maps arranged in the conference room at the Bartram Trail branch library in Fruit Cove on Monday and comment on the routes to county engineers.

Resident Ray Dever said the sidewalks are something his neighbors have wanted for years, but he was hoping the county could find the funds to do more.

"There has to be a sidewalk for kids to get around. But we have a lot of cyclists who come in from Duval County across the bridge, 80 to 100 at a time, and they use that road. It really needs to be both," Dever said. "I'm not a bike person, but a bike's got to have a way. . . . Sidewalks are a necessity, but the bicyclists have to have a safer way."

Resident Jackie Bell likes the sidewalk plan as well, except that it will come very close to her property line and cross her short driveway close to her home.

"They are only 3 feet from the property line and I think they should be farther," she said. "They are taking my driveway. As it stands, if I have people visiting, I have a nice long driveway for them to park on. Now I won't have a driveway for them to park on."

Fruit Cove Road is an 18-foot-wide, two-lane roadway that starts at Florida 13's intersection with Race Track Road, then heads west and south past single-family homes and side streets before reconnecting with Florida 13 a few miles south. Residents backed the idea for a bicycle path or sidewalk in a 1999 petition started by area resident and former County Commissioner Pal Howell.

During a town meeting in mid-December, county engineers produced preliminary designs for three possible options that included widening the travel lanes to 12 feet. One would add two 4-foot-wide bicycle lanes for about $940,000. Another proposed adding two 5-foot-wide sidewalks on each side instead, for $995,000. The third suggests doing both for $1.7 million.

County officials said they now have the funding to build one or the other, but not widen the road. …

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