Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

I-95 Relief Sought in St. Johns

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

I-95 Relief Sought in St. Johns

Article excerpt

Developers of a 7,200-unit housing development surrounding the

World Golf Village in northern St. Johns County have filed a

complaint against the county and a proposed outlet mall, saying

the mall will further crowd an already overcrowded section of

Interstate 95.

Attorney John Metcalf said SJH Partnership is not seeking to

halt the St. Augustine Centre development. New roads to relieve

I-95 traffic, a widened interstate or a relaxation of state

capacity regulations on the highway are what is needed, he said.

And St. Johns, the development being built by SJH Partnership,

is already hampered by state highway rules. Of 7,200 residences

planned, 2,300 can be built and another 1,400 depend on payment

of $800,000 in I-95 impact fees.

That still leaves nearly half the development hanging.

"It's the last 3,400 [homes] that are really threatened because

there we just have to prove that the highway operates at an

acceptable level of service," Metcalf said.

The county has 30 days to respond to the complaint, which was

filed April 17. If the response is unacceptable to the SJH

Partnership, the developer can file a lawsuit in Circuit Court.

Assistant County Attorney Dan Bosanko said he will have a

recommended response for county commissioners to consider at

their meeting May 13.

This week, county commissioners said they will coordinate with

the state to work on a comprehensive plan to build a road

network to alleviate interstate traffic and allow the state time

to widen the highway.

Joe Stephenson, regional planning administrator for the state

Department of Transportation in St. Johns County, said there are

plans to begin a six-lane design for the interstate in 1998, but

no money to build the highway, which would cost $1.5 million per

mile to construct.

He said the agency probably won't be able to begin the work for

10 years.

For the state to relax the capacity standards, and simply

approve more cars on the interstate would take action by the

Legislature or the state Department of Community Affairs and the

Department of Transportation. …

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