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Middleburg median closure controversy

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Updated: 5/29/2013 11:59 pm
MIDDLEBURG, Fla.-- With traffic growing on Blanding Boulevard the DOT has decided to also grow the road, adding another lane in each direction.

"Years ago, Middleburg used to be a sleepy rural area and not anymore," said DOT spokesman Mike Goldman.

But there is a price for progress. Widening the roads also means removing Middleburg medians, gateways to local businesses. It's a move that has DOT phones ringing off the hook.

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

Calls from frustrated business owners like Jan Lappin. The main entrance to her martial arts studio sits at a median slated for closure. She tells Action News she's concerned the move could be bad for business.

"Time is money and there's a point where people aren't going to drive all the way three miles out of their way which to come get here," she said.

In total, 13 medians on Blanding Boulevard are slated for closure within a six-mile stretch between Long Bay and Old Jennings roads. The DOT says the closures aren't set in stone.

"I want to stress it's not going to happen tomorrow," said Goldman.

Locals like Lappin plan on fighting to keep their medians to protect their businesses.

"I can't believe they'll close them all," said Lappin. "I think when we explain the impact it will have that it will make a difference I'm hoping."

The DOT will hear public input about the median at a town hall meeting scheduled for June 6 at 4:30 p.m. at the Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park.
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