Roadway concerns Wal-Mart

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 12:21 a.m.
Just how many vehicles can County Road 235A in the city of Alachua handle?
Enough for the a new Wal-Mart distribution center?
Alachua County doesn't know. In order to save money, the county's Public Work's Department took some cost-cutting measures when it repaved the road to make it sturdy enough to accommodate the traffic associated with the Dollar General distribution center a few years back, according to Michael Fay, acting Public Works director.
Engineering specifications at the time called for 3 inches of asphalt to be laid over the existing pavement to give the road a 10-year life span for up to 16,700 average daily trips, according to the county. One trip is considered traveling on the road one way.
It turns out only 3 inches of asphalt was put down. No one knows what the wear and tear would be on that depth of asphalt, although county officials expect that the road can handle the traffic with Wal-Mart. The county has hired a firm to analyze the road.
But now that Wal-Mart is seriously contemplating a move into Alachua, the world's largest retailer wants some assurances that the road will hold up. And the company wants the county to pay if it doesn't.
On Tuesday, Brent Christensen, president of the Alliance for Economic Development, asked the Alachua County Commission to consider writing a letter to the company affirming both.
"They are just trying to make sure the road is what we represented," Christensen said.
The County Commission instead voted 4-1 to write a letter explaining to Wal-Mart that it would be required to pay its share of improvements to the road should any improvements need to be made.
"If they impact the road, then they will have to pay," County Commission Chairman Rodney Long said. "It's just like impact fees."
Commissioner Mike Byerly voted against the letter because he said this is the same thing any company coming to the county would be required to do.
"What this letter says is strictly a restatement of law," Byerly said.
"It would be my preference to do nothing."
Wal-Mart officials have expressed interest in building a 1.2-million-square-foot distribution center on a site near the Dollar General distribution center, just off CR 235A. Company officials project that the center will produce about 1,200 car trips (600 in and 600 out) and 900 (450 in and 450 out) truck trips a day.
County estimates show that fewer than 3,000 trips a day are now being used on CR 235A.
The road analysis could take three to five weeks. It is unclear if it will draw out an announcement by Wal-Mart about its plans.
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at 337-0327 or sikesj@

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