Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Asking City to Maintain Dirt Roads; but a Worry Is That Could Lead to Many Requests for Expensive Repairs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Asking City to Maintain Dirt Roads; but a Worry Is That Could Lead to Many Requests for Expensive Repairs

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Patterson

While transportation boosters wait for new roads, bike paths and sidewalks from a Jacksonville City Council gas-tax vote this week, Mike Sellers is setting his sights lower.

He and his neighbors want the city to clean drainage lines and grade the dirt road tying their neighborhood to bustling Beach Boulevard.

That probably won't happen, but he figures he has to ask.

"I don't want to take them to court, but I guess that's the next thing," said Sellers, who has traded emails with the city's Public Works Department for most of the past decade, asking the city to maintain a road that he says old-time residents reported Duval County used to maintain before Jacksonville consolidated into one government in 1968.

"All we've ever asked is clean the ditch, maintain the road," he said. "We don't even say pave it. Just maintain it."

Others are asking the same thing, and being told no.

Jacksonville has 251 miles of roads on public rights of way - that's land the city owns - that Public Works won't maintain because they didn't don't meet standards, like being paved, that are required when roads are built today.

There are also more than 460 miles of private roads, where the quality can vary mile by mile.

City officials have worried that taking care of any of these streets would open a floodgate of requests for expensive work to fix sub-par streets.

"We are concerned about the other 714 miles of unmaintained roads that would be a substantial cost to the city annually to maintain," Public Works Director Jim Robinson emailed Councilwoman Lori Boyer last year.

"The precedent of accepting any of these miles ... is substantial. Therefore, we stand behind our long-standing policy of not including these roads for city maintenance."

Boyer said it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing choice. She pointed out that neighboring counties, where unpaved roads are more common, have rules and standards for dirt roads as well as blacktop. …

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