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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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FDOT Explains the Ins & Outs of the Design, Const, Funding of the 'Jack Berry Hwy' & DOT Study


Neither Gov Scott appointee Foreman (left), nor Auth Manager Berry understood that the County 5 did not put the kibosh on the Jack Berry Highway.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The confusion at the Governor's Lake Shore Hospital Authority Monday Board meeting could have been avoided if Authority Manager Jack Berry had contacted the DOT to get clarification of the consequences of the County Commission's revised Memorandum of Understanding that was before the Authority Board.

The Observer did.

Contrary to Manager Berry's illusions to a non-existent 2012 County-Lake City-Authority agreement; Board member Ron Foreman's remarks that long time member of the County 5 Ron Williams was responsible for putting a halt to the project; and the unsubstantiated Foreman accusation that "The County Commission has the authority to put our patients at risk...," it was the Lake Shore Hospital Authority that put a halt to the Lake Shore Boulevard Project, known as the 'Jack Berry Hwy.'

On February 8, 2017, the Observer contacted FDOT's Tracy Hisler Pace, the DOT's Northeast Florida Public Information Officer, with 5 questions regarding the project.

FDOT's Dist. 2's Tracy Hisler-Pace Clarifies

Ms. Hisler-Pace got back to your reporter with the answers on Monday afternoon, Feb. 13, before the Authority Board meeting.

Question: How much did it cost the DOT to do the study?

Ms. Hisler-Pace: Approximately $28,000

Question: Now that the County has rejected all routes and has no specific route in mind, how does this not impact the DOT grant?

Ms. Hisler-Pace:  The Appropriation passed by the Florida Legislature was for design. This is not an FDOT grant.  FDOT is facilitating the funding as directed by the Florida Legislature.

Question:  The County draft minutes state the following in the motion to approve the DOT Grant:  "... There is no stated preference for route and that the County will review when complete." [I cannot translate into ordinary English. It may be DOT lingo.]

Ms. Hisler-Pace: The FDOT has no jurisdiction for projects off the state system.

Question:  The FDOT Public Involvement Handbook indicates that a public hearing would have been required during the design stage. The 1977 project had a public hearing. Why wasn't there a public hearing for this project?

Ms. Hisler-Pace:  In 1977 the FDOT was responsible for this project.  At the current time FDOT is not responsible for the project. The city/or county will have to design and deliver the project.

Question:  How (in plain English) does the County know where to put the design for the road now that they have "no preference" or have rejected the DOT suggest alternate plan after DOT rejected what is clearly the LSHA plan?

Ms. Hisler-Pace:  The FDOT has no jurisdiction for projects off the state system.

Epilogue

The Observer thanks Ms. Hisler-Pace and FDOT Dist. 2 for its answers.

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