Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Callahan, It's Inevitable: With the Road Comes Growth; Residents and Officials Consider the Benefits, and If the Town Is Ready for It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Callahan, It's Inevitable: With the Road Comes Growth; Residents and Officials Consider the Benefits, and If the Town Is Ready for It

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

CALLAHAN - Three and half years ago, workers started a $11.6 million project to widen 5 1/2 miles of Florida A1A between Interstate 95 and Griffin Road from two lanes to four.

Even as the road was being built, growth followed.

When completed, three new subdivisions - Three Rivers, Timberland Estates and Timber Creek - will add 4,000 homes to the south side of the newly widened highway.

The four lanes were completed Aug. 25 and eastbound traffic shifted to the two new lanes. Before that, both east- and westbound traffic had been relegated to two lanes as crews worked on the others. One westbound traffic lane is still closed because of asphalt issues. Florida Department of Transportation officials expect the lane to be open by Sept. 15.

In coming years, the final segment of A1A between I-95 and Callahan - the stretch between Griffin and Stratton roads - also will be widened to four lanes. According to its Web site, FDOT has budgeted $49.6 million in its five-year plan from 2007 to 2011 for rights of way acquisition and construction.

Both county and town officials, as well as some Callahan residents, say they welcome the changes the widened highway will bring to Callahan.

"I think it's going to be great," Elton Steptoe of Callahan said. "There's been a lot of wrecks on that road. I think it's going to be a good thing for Callahan."

Mark Cooner of Callahan drives on the road during frequent trips to Fernandina Beach. He said the road is already safer and will bode well for the town's future.

"People are worried that it will take away from Callahan. It won't take anything away from Callahan. It'll relieve traffic. It's a lot nicer driving on two lanes. You know how it is to get sandwiched between those log trucks. Now you feel a lot safer when you pass."

A four-lane Florida A1A between Yulee and Callahan will bring a long-needed economic boom to Callahan, Public Works Director Mike Williams said. …

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