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Muddy roads leaves resident stuck as JEA contractors work on septic tank phase-out program

During a First Coast News live report, a woman got stuck on a road that was dug up to lay in sewer pipelines in the Biltmore neighborhood.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A rainy day in Jacksonville turned a dirt road into mud where JEA contractors and sub-contractors are working on sewer lines to hook up residents to city sewage services.

A woman leaving her home along Shenandoah Road in the Biltmore neighborhood got her car stuck in the mud and had to wait for a tow truck to pull her out.

According to a JEA spokesperson, the road was dug up to install a gravity sewer as part of the city’s septic tank phaseout program. They reimbursed the woman for the tow truck.

The program has caused some short-term inconveniences for residents, but some residents believe there will be long-term benefits.

The septic tank phaseout program, a partnership between the City of Jacksonville and JEA, aims to remove nearly 1,600 septic tanks in neighborhoods in Northwest Jacksonville.

The city has made this promise for decades to connect residents to city sewer services, improving the infrastructure of the city’s oldest neighborhoods while preventing harmful nutrients from entering waterways that feed the St. Johns River.

Angela Edenfield, who says she wasn’t totally on board with the project at first, said she eventually bought into the project.

On a rainy day, the construction in Edenfield’s neighborhood is not the prettiest site.

“It’s nasty, ridiculous with the mud and what’s going on," Edenfield said. "But, I do see hope on the other side of the neighborhood where they have been finishing up.” 

Heavy construction equipment can be seen from her home.

The city and JEA agreed to the program in 2016, but First Coast News has learned that funds for parts of the project fall short of the cost.

JEA has $54.1 million in funds to connect three neighborhoods to the city’s sewage system, but an additional $30 million is needed.

According to JEA, the Biltmore C project and Beverly Hills West project are covered. JEA says the $30 million will be needed to fund the Chirstobel project and also cover the $6 million shortfall for the Beverly Hills East design and construction costs.

The Mayor’s Office tells our news partners the Florida Times-Union they are working with City Council to round up more money.

Additional details were not provided to First Coast News, but a city spokesperson says an announcement regarding the project will be coming soon.

Edenfield said her concern about replacing the septic tanks is the cost for city sewage services.

“I’m already struggling with things going on financially, but the thing at the end of the day, the city is going to do what it wants to do,” Edenfield explained.

Edenfield and other residents have lived there for decades. She thinks the move will help build up property value for the hundreds of properties.

“I’ve had no issues with my septic system, my water, I’ve had no problems at all but it is a good idea for property value I guess for them to do what they need to do,” Edenfield said.

JEA did eventually pay to have Edenfield's car towed safely from the mud.

According to JEA, the Biltmore project will connect 352 lots to city sewage by December 2021.

The Beverly Hills project which will be done in two phases is scheduled to finish in 2023, but the date will be revised due to part of project being on hold, JEA says.

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