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Median closures could impact Blanding businesses

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Updated: 6/12/2013 8:26 pm

MIDDLEBURG, Fla.-- Blanding Blvd. is dotted with medians, allowing easy access to businesses like Stone Plus along the route.

"We live in a pretty fast paced world now and everything's very convenient for people with easy access," said John Parker, a salesman at Stones Plus.

But the DOT says plans to expand the traffic riddled roadway to six lanes could force them to shut the median down permanently for safety reasons.

"Thirty-five years ago Middleburg used to be a sleepy rural area," said DOT spokesman Mike Goldman. "Not anymore!"

Businesses like Stone Plus say taking out the middleman, the medians, will hit their bottom line.

"If people are inconvenienced they're less likely to come back or make that turn around," said Parker.

In total, 13 medians on Blanding are slated for closure within a 6-mile stretch between Long Bay and Old Jennings Road. But the DOT says the construction plans aren't concrete.

Last week the DOT planned to hear from businesses who say they depend on the medians at a public hearing. That meeting was canceled, prompting even more concern.

"I am not exaggerating, I personally have received over 150 calls," said Goldman.

Now the meeting has been pushed until August, giving shops like Stone Plus more time to worry, but also more time to plan.

"It's hard enough for this day in time to earn business to keep people away like this would be even harder," said Parker.

The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 5 in Orange Park's Thrasher Horn Center at 4:30 p.m.

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