More than a dozen mature trees along the north side of Mickler Road have been spared following changes to the design of a road improvement project in Ponte Vedra Beach.
St. Johns County officials made the changes at the request of residents living in the vicinity of the project. County Engineer Duane Kent and representatives of the Public Works Department met with the residents at the site on Thursday, Nov. 9, to explain the changes.
Residents expressed their gratitude.
“We’re just extremely happy with the outcome,” said Nicole Crosby, who lives on nearby Neck Road. “I was nervous going into this today, because I was worried we were still going to lose a lot of trees. It sounds like the number of trees they’ve saved is just astounding.”
The project will create dual left-turn lanes from Mickler Road onto State Road A1A, a left-turn lane from Ponte Vedra Boulevard onto southbound A1A and an additional through-lane on northbound A1A.
The dual turn lanes will require a segment of Mickler Road be widened.
However, the original design called for that widening to be extended westward, tapering to the road’s current width at the intersection with Neck Road, 1,500 feet from the A1A Intersection.
That widening would have accommodated a new left-turn lane into the Portofino condominium complex and 12-foot drainage swales near the Meditierra community, west of Portofino. The total project would have necessitated removal of about 36 trees and possible catastrophic stress to others, including some majestic live oaks.
At a Sept. 26 meeting with county officials, residents insisted there was no need for the Portofino turn lane as there are only 20 units there.
County officials agreed to re-examine the design and meet again with residents in about 30 days. In the meantime, the contractor would address other portions of the project.
The proposed turn lane into Portofino and the drainage swales were eliminated, and the taper no longer nears Meditierra, ending instead just past the Portofino entrance.
The design modifications also address a pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection of Mickler Road and A1A. At the Sept. 26 meeting, residents said cars often failed to stop at the crosswalk.
The crosswalk, which runs from the northwest curb to a pedestrian “island,” will be relocated slightly to the north to improve its visibility to southbound traffic turning left onto Mickler Road. Currently, motorists encounter the crosswalk only after committing to the turn.
To learn more about the project, go to datahub-sjcpwd.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/SJCPWD::capital-improvement-projects/explore. Zoom the map to the project area and click on it.