Trends Summer 2016 | Page 12

STEPPING UP SAFETY FDOT DISTRICT 2 Five-year contract paves path for multiple sidewalk and trail projects in northeastern Florida By Jennifer Schmidt A ll too often, a dangerous scenario plays out in certain Florida counties. With no sidewalk available, pedestrians set out on the grassy side of the road en route to their destinations – but when they encounter a wet patch of grass or muddy section, they step onto the pavement to continue their journeys. The situation weighs heavily on the minds of transportation officials like Barney Bennette, transportation planning manager at the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 2, who is determined to turn around the unsettling statistic ranking Florida highest in the country for pedestrian fatalities. “When we go out and look at projects, there’s been any number of occasions 12│TRENDS where the pedestrians or bicyclists are in the road or immediately adjacent to the travel lane on the shoulder. That’s quite common on most of these projects,” said Bennette, noting how speed limits in these sections range from 25 mph on residential streets to 65 mph on principal arterial roads. TAKING ACTION In 2012, FDOT’s District 2 awarded Ayres Associates a five-year contract to provide design engineering services for various trail and sidewalk enhancement projects along state and county roads within the District. To date, 26 task orders have been issued, some in urban areas and others in remote, rural sections of the district, but all based on need and all presenting a unique set of challenges. • • • • • SUWANNEE COUNTY: State Road 51, County Road 250 NASSAU COUNTY: State Road 15/U.S. Highway 1 DUVAL COUNTY: St ate Road A1A CLAY COUNTY: County Road 218 BRADFORD COUNTY: County Road 18 “They’re locally driven projects where the local agency contacts us and wants to put these in,” Bennette said. “Every year, the counties submit a prioritized list of projects for bike paths and sidewalks, and that’s what we use to select projects off of.” when we have to get a (county) commissioner involved,” Bennette noted. In addition to political issues, the project also brought technical challenges, including a large drainage ditch going through the project that had to be accounted for in the design. The first contract involved designing a 5-foot-wide sidewalk along the south side of County Road 18 from Southwest 80th Place to State Road 200/U.S. Highway 301 near Hampton Lake in Bradford County. Some residents in the lakefront community supported the sidewalk project while others opposed it. Those against the sidewalk’s installation believed they owned the land all the way up to the pavement, “where, in reality, it’s a road right-of-way, and that’s usually In contrast, a similar sidewalk project on County Road 218 from Mimosa Avenue to east of State Road 21 (Blanding Boulevard) in nearby Clay County had full support from the community. “That area was all commercial and had a library,” Bennette said. “(Property owners) wanted the sidewalk in front of their businesses.” OTHER PROJECTS HAVE INCLUDED DESIGN OF: • A 12-foot-wide bike path and trail along the east side of the Timucuan Trail (State Road A1A) from the Shad Creek Bridge to the Fort George Island Trailhead in Jacksonville, Duval County. • A 5-foot-wide sidewalk along the south side of County Road 250 from 237th Court to 235th Road in Dowling Park, Suwannee County. • A 5-foot-wide sidewalk along the west side of State Road 51 from Demetree Street to Walker Avenue in Live Oak, Suwannee County. While not all projects are complete, TRENDS │13