State Hurries up Atlantic Sidewalk Because of Financing

By Mike Lednovich

The Florida Department of Transportation notified the city of Fernandina Beach Thursday that it will begin demolishing the walkway on Atlantic Avenue from Eighth to 10th streets, including the removal of the historic pavers.

The notice sent the city into crisis mode in an effort to salvage as many of the hexagonal pavers as possible for future use in the historic downtown.

“We’ve been thrown a curve ball by FDOT and we have to mobilize quickly in order to preserve as many pavers as possible for later reintroduction into historic downtown,” said Public Works Director Jeremiah Glisson. “We want to make sure the public knows what’s happening on the walkway.”

FDOT spokesman Hampton Ray said the project has been expedited because of the availability of $183,000 in project funds, which are due to expire on July 1.

“We have been in discussions with the city since August of last year and FDOT has made it clear that if the city wanted to salvage and keep pavers the city would have to coordinate internally to remove pavers they want to save,” Ray said.

He also said the city was made aware that the project would proceed quickly and “shouldn’t come as any surprise. To suggest otherwise would be disingenuous.”

In a press release FDOT said the existing pavers will be removed and replaced with a brushed concrete sidewalk to promote mobility and improve safety. The sidewalk will be 6 feet wide along most of the corridor; however, at the corner of Eighth Street and Atlantic Avenue, the sidewalk will narrow to protect the tree at the location.

FDOT officials Tuesday conducted a “hybrid” meeting to accept public comments on the project which also included an informal “open house” session of reviewing the plans individually with concerned residents.

The walkway has been closed since last September after expanding tree roots displaced sections of the historic pavers creating what FDOT said was an unacceptable safety hazard for pedestrians on Atlantic Avenue just past 10th Street.

The fate of a majestic heritage oak tree near the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Eighth Street by the Hoyt House that will be impacted by the sidewalk installation has yet to be determined. But FDOT said during construction, any work performed in and around existing trees will be conducted in coordination with a certified ISA arborist. This additional step is being taken out of an abundance of caution to protect the integrity of the trees in the area.

Contractor Webber Infra is expected to complete the work this summer, weather and unforeseen circumstances permitting.

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12 days ago

“… unforeseen circumstances permitting.” Are these the code words meaning COFB Commissioners? Enquiring minds wanna know.

Robert Weintraub
Trusted Member
Robert Weintraub(@rukbat23gmail-com)
12 days ago

Can FDOT ‘s arborist be trusted? He already said speakers at the recent forum were speaking “drivel.” Can the city arborist also be involved to keep him honest?

Cheryl Witt
Cheryl Witt(@cheryl-witt)
12 days ago

The “hybrid” meeting on Tuesday night was a joke. It was an open house, where everyone wandered around trying to figure out what the plan was. No one was there to provide a cohesive presentation, nor justify the decisions that were made. Then during the comment period, no questions were allowed, as those points were supposed to be asked during the open house session. So questions about WHY the decisions were made were not answered. Why do the pavers need to go. Why wasn’t an easement purchased from Hoyt House to enlarge the area where sidewalk can go. Why isn’t a bridge over roots being considered? Why oh Why, is the comment period open till June 10, when work is starting Monday. I’m still seething about the stupid, ineffective, circus meeting on Tuesday.

Active Member
10 days ago
Reply to  Cheryl Witt

As my husband always says, when you hire clowns, expect there to be a circus.

Jane Philips Collins
Active Member
Jane Philips Collins(@jane-philips-collins)
11 days ago

I went to the meeting, thinking it was a meeting, and since it wasn’t, went home to watch the hybrid part on zoom. That was a joke because someone forgot to turn on the microphone for the speaker and while I could see them, I couldn’t hear them. Totally inept on the part of the FDOT.

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