Limestone Rd. in northern Marion County is blacktopped from 290th to Tampa, but a four-mile stretch that meets up with Dickinson County north of Tampa is not. It is muddy when wet and dusty when dry.
The road continues north to K-4 under a different name.
The farm-to-market road is a commercial route routinely used by Agri Trails Cooperative semi-trucks and more recently by wind farm workers.
From K-4 south to the Marion County line, the road has a wide hard surface complete with side and center markings.
However, at the county line, the road turns into a graveled surface of fine limestone, stirring up clouds of dust that make it impossible to see ahead when passing. Semi tractor-trailers stir up a lot of dust, forcing drivers to pull to the side and wait for it to clear before going on.
Connie McMahan lives along that road. She considers it a safety hazard. For a while, her daughter and family lived with her, and the children rode a school bus. She was concerned for their safety.
“I’m afraid somebody is going to be killed,” she said.
McMahan managed the Tampa Trail Stop store for five years. She launched a petition asking the county to fix the road and delivered it to the road and bridge department.
“I hope it got to the right people, but we never got a response,” she said.
The people who live around there are resigned that nothing will be done to improve the road. They say it doesn’t do any good to ask for help.
Roger Will, manager of the Tampa co-op, said he hasn’t talked to the road and bridge department about the road, but plenty of others have, and nothing is done. He thinks it’s a waste of time.
David Mueller lives one mile off Limestone Rd., his access road to Tampa.
“We’ve fought for decades for help on that road,” he said. “The problem is that it is wide and flat and is either muddy or dusty.”
One-and-a-half-miles of that road are part of a haul route for wind farm workers. Mueller said the wind farm improved that stretch, putting more and better gravel on it.
McMahan said while the wind farm was under construction, workers oiled roads in front of residences to reduce blowing dust.
Mueller said the road needs to be built up and ditches created, so rainwater will run off.
“We have a county engineer now, and he comes out and looks at roads when there are complaints, so I have hopes that something will be done,” he said.
County engineer Brice Goebel, who has been on the job since June, said the county has plans to rework the road, build up a crown, and put good gravel on it. There are many other roads in the county that need the same thing, he said.
“We take these comments seriously,” he said. “The northern part of the county has been hit hard this year with heavy rains and flooded roads. The problem is time.”
He could not give a timeframe for when reworking Limestone Rd. might be done.