If you build it, who will come?

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Column by Jim Clark

With a lot of fanfare and a huge truck, the county opened the new Northwest 44th Avenue earlier this week. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a beautiful four-lane road … to nowhere.

Now there is one argument I can buy. If you build this beautiful road with easy access to U.S. 27 and subsequently the Interstate, it could attract industry, and that’s a good thing. I won’t argue that.

But don’t give me this story about a bypass, or beltway, or whatever you want to call it. I have several problems with that.

This bypass, which I’ll probably never see in my lifetime, is planned to run from Maricamp Road just east of 36th Avenue, all the way through southern Ocala, where it now ends just past 27th Avenue at Trinity Catholic High School.

But plans are already under way to build an overpass (what people around here call a flyover) over the Interstate, without an exit, to feed into State Road 200. If you recall, we ran a map last year to show where it would come out.

After that, there’s supposed to be a road continued on the other side of 200 north to connect with this new 44th Avenue, which eventually will extend all the way to County Road 326.

I have to ask, who’s going to use this road?

You can already get from Maricamp to 326 in rather clear fashion. You go to 36th Avenue, turn north, and follow it until it dead ends at 326. The only congestion you encounter is around Silver Springs Boulevard.

Even better, there’s a beautiful new road project almost finished to make Baseline Road a four-lane highway from Maricamp to Silver Springs. You can then either go straight to 326, or turn left and get to 36th Avenue and then go north.

Why would you go south to go north?

There is, by the way, another high-speed road that already connects State Road 200 with 326. It’s called the Interstate.

I’ll buy the flyover to help people bypass 200 in the congested shopping areas. But it’s going to take some great engineering to keep traffic from bottlenecking at the new intersection.

There’s another problem that has already surfaced. The finished eastern portion of the new “beltway” bypasses 17th Street. The speed limit, however, is slower on the bypass than it is on the road it’s bypassing. Does that make sense?

Oh, and one more thing. This project that was just finished is on some list of Vice President Joe Biden. I guess that makes everything all right.

Excuse me, I’m laughing too hard to continue typing.


Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at 352-854-3986 or at editor@smcitizen.com.