CHIEFLAND, Fla. (WCJB) – Florida Department of Transportation employees have their sights set on Levy County once again. The FDOT held a meeting to get feedback from Levy County residents on a major U.S. Highway 19 upgrade plan on Tuesday.
They are in the first stage of a project to speed up traffic on US Highway 19 from Citrus County to Chiefland.
“It looks at US 19 and how to try to create freer driving conditions for the motoring public,” said communications manager Tracy Hisler-Pace. “We want to hear what citizens have to say and what they want and what they don’t want.”
The project is part of a Florida law to create “free-flow traffic” that would ensure traffic flows smoothly.
“If there is a vehicle in front of you and it has to slow down to enter a middle lane or another road, the traffic behind it has to slow down, creating what is called a point of conflict,” said Hisler-Pace.
The design is said to be underway from 2023-2024 and they do not know the details of construction or cost.
Chiefland resident Ellen Gloff is unhappy with the plan.
“I just think no, it shouldn’t happen at all,” Gloff said.
She worries about safety.
“Everyone is driving faster than they should on US 19 now,” Gloff said. “”If they have turn lanes or roads they can access, roads they can drive on, I think the speed is actually going to get worse on US-19. There are already so many accidents on US-19.
Gloff owns property near the freeway and is worried about being impacted by construction.
“We’re concerned about talking about an access road because, like I said, we have commercial property on US 19,” Gloff said.
Resident Robbie Blake doesn’t care because the freeway is already there.
“What they’re trying to do is facilitate the flow, which is good,” Blake said.
While Blake said she was okay with this project on U.S. Highway 19, she still has concerns about Florida’s turnpike that could pass through Levy County.
Related story: Residents speak out against proposed FDOT project at Marion County Commission meeting
Several residents came to the meeting with stickers saying “rural Florida says no to toll roads” and handed out letters explaining why.
“And they’re talking about building new roads through state forests, through wildlife habitat, through big ponds, one of the rarest and most endangered places,” Blake said.
There will be another U.S. Highway 19 briefing being held virtually on Thursday via GoToWebinar. There will also be an in-person meeting Monday at the Inglis Community Center.
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