Historic City News local reporters learned of a request from a Port Orange company, Masci General Contractors, to the Florida Department of Transportation to be allowed to continue the $1.6 million King Street Drainage Improvement Project approved to begin next week.
The news triggered a firestorm of e-mails and last-minute telephone calls between business owners, residents and city officials who came away from a meeting Friday with the impression that there would be a moratorium on the construction; at least from the standpoint of city staff.
The major construction project would shut down eastbound traffic on what is arguably the city’s main entrance corridor; was announced with little fanfare to the business community and residents, and lacked a well-vetted streetscape and underground utility conversion plan.
To applause from a crowded St Augustine City Commission chamber, City Manager John Regan told the Mayor and commissioners, “Its my recommendation, as City Manager and as a professional engineer, in the interest of public safety, commerce, and the real vision of the community; I would recommend that you adopt this resolution.”
Without further ado, City Commission Vice-Chairman Leanna Freeman said, “I personally believe that with more time and more planning that we can make this a much more successful project and I’d like to make a motion that we pass Resolution 2012-09.”
Commissioner Errol Jones immediately seconded the motion.
The motion passed unanimously; after it was amended, during discussion, to include a request that the project be delayed until 2016 and that the FDOT commit to appropriation of “comparable funding” to the project.
The Resolution is not the final say in the matter, however. King Street is a state road and the project is a state department of transportation project.
According to Regan, the FDOT people with whom he has been in communication, have indicated a willingness to take the City of St Augustine’s recommendation into consideration; however, if the FDOT determines that the cost to cancel the already-approved and scheduled contract work, or other factors, are overarching, they may not grant the delay.
Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News staff photographer