7/23/2016 – Which Orange County District 5 Candidate will you vote for?

Orance County District 5 Candidates

From Left to Right, Edwards, Bonilla, Eisenberg, McKinney

My vote will go to Tim McKinney.

Commissioner Edwards spoke these words that ring in my ears, “Orange County is an Urban County”.  The pleasant thoughts of open fields, unpolluted rivers and lakes is replaced with  visions of endless houses, subdivisions, shopping centers and roads with lots of traffic.  Commissioner Edwards desire to make Orange County an urban county makes him the wrong choice for the District 5 commissioner where a very large portion of it is rural.  This was made very clear at the July 12th Lake Pickett hearing when he opposed the residents and pushed through the Lake Pickett projects.  The only thing worse than no representation is opposing representation from your elected official.

East Orange County has been lacking in representation at the county level for many years.  That is why our infrastructure out here is in such poor shape.  Impact fees paid by developers has been taken by Orange County but used in other parts of the county with no improvements to the roads in East Orange County.  Because we have been asleep at the wheel with no representation, we have been robbed blind.  Now, only because of opposition to the Lake Pickett developments and dedicated people represented the interests of the residents of East Orange County at meeting and public comment has the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) taking notice.  Many residents including myself have freely given thousands of hours trying to get this fixed.  We have attended community meeting, spoken in front of the BCC, CFX, MetroPlan and other agencies.  We have created blog posts like this ones and collaborated with Orange County staff on possible solutions.  It is these actions that have made some difference and is why we are seeing some focus given to our area.

Public Comment - waiting to speak

Public Comment – waiting to speak

But one very important theme has emerged.  We want our roads fixed but not at the expense of our environment and the pristine Econ River and Econ River Basin and we most definitely do not want the rural area paved over with concrete.  This desire has been made very clear to Commissioner Edwards and it is here that we have a difference of opinion.  The picture above was taken at the Young Republicans debate a few months ago.  Commissioner Edwards made a statement that embodies his philosophy of what Orange County is.  He said,  “Orange County is an Urban County”.  This statement directly opposes the views of people who live in this area and which our commissioner should be fighting for, not against.

So on July 12th with every seat in the county chambers filled as well as every seat in the overflow room and standing room only in the foyer with people against the Lake Pickett Text Amendment and developments, Commissioner Edwards pressed forward like a salmon swimming upstream against the current to push his agenda.  I have never seen so many people and groups against a land use case.  Yet our commissioner moved forward and in fact cross examined residents who came there only to express their views.  I felt as though they were on a witness stand.  That was very offensive to see.

Tim McKinney

Tim McKinney

Tim McKinney has the best chance of winning and his representation will ensure the wishes of residents living in East Orange County are honored.  Here is a link to his website so you can read about him and what he stands for, Tim McKinney for District 5 Orange County Commissioner.

Here is a quote from his website,

Through public and private partnerships we will tenaciously work to find the solutions to solving our community’s problems. As a vocal advocate, I will stand up to bureaucratic policies that leave many Central Floridians behind. I will fight for your dignity and respect, to ensure that Orange County government is working for you.”

This is all we can ask for but it will take all of our efforts to have him elected.  We must vote.  If we don’t vote, we will not be represented and we can expect development to continue all the way to the St. Johns River.  We must have a seat at the table and be represented.  Get involved and vote for Tim McKinney.

It is proven by what happened on July 12th that spending time expressing yourself and your ideas at public comment is a fruitless endeavor.  We must take this into the political arena and elect an official that will work to our best interest.

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7/19/2016 – Update on the 408 Extension Advisory Group meeting on 7/19/2016

On 7/18/2016, I attended a CFX 408 Extension Advisory Group meeting to discuss the progress on the 408 Extension Study.

The big question that is still unanswered.  Will FDOT allow the extension to run along the Hwy 50 right-of-way?

The question is still unanswered leaving most of us perplexed as to why but I have a tidbit of information that might explain it.  The reason I have heard is that FDOT says that this road should be built by the Turnpike which is part of FDOT, not the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX).  Discussions are still underway at the highest level and let’s hope FDOT decides to let CFX build the road.  Even though Hwy 50 is being widened, that will only last a few years and by 2025 it will become just as crowded as it is now.  We will need this road.  As a community, we must pressure FDOT to allow this road to be built by CFX.  If it is turned over to the Turnpike, it will slow the process and be too late to curb the parking lot that will most certainly come.

The CFX study team is nearing the end of the study phase and if allowed to proceed by FDOT and with approval by the CFX board, the project can move into the design stage.  the design stage takes about 2 years.  Once that is completed construction can proceed.  Construction will take 3-5 years so if all goes well we could have the first section of the 408 extension just in time and when we need it the most.  This section runs from the end of the 408 now to Avalon Park Blvd.

SR 408 Eastern Extension PD&E Study

SR 408 Eastern Extension PD&E Study

The group discussed other routes that the extension could take if FDOT stands firm but unanimously agreed that the only route that makes sense is along Hwy 50.  This is the best route to minimize disruption to the community as well as the environmental impact.  Several environmental groups have been involved and also agree this is the best option.

I was very impressed with the excellent job by the study team and the innovative solution they found to the problem of reusing the improvements currently being done on Hwy 50.

Here is the end proposed solution:

The first segment which runs from the end of the 408 out to Avalon Parkway will be an elevated road on either side of Hwy 50.  Because there are so many lights in this section, it only made sense to elevate the road the entire section.  The elevated roadway will run on either side of Hwy 50 as shown in the picture.  This means that the improvements being made to Hwy 50 now can be used as built.

SR 408 Eastern Extension PD&E Study

SR 408 Eastern Extension PD&E Study

At Avalon Parkway the expressway drops to ground level and uses the existing Hwy 50 roadway. Hwy 50 will be built on either side of the expressway and run along the 408 all the way out to 520.  At certain intersections such as S. Tanner, 419, and a few more along the route, the 408 will bridge the intersections allowing passage under the 408 for cars, bikes and pedestrians.  Again, this means that the improvements being made to Hwy 50 now can be used as built.

This road is critical to our infrastructure problems here in East Orange County and one of the very necessary solutions.  Even with the 408 extension, we will still have traffic problems.  We still need other improvements to completely solve the problems but this is a critical piece to the puzzle that must happen.

MetroPlan has asked that a presentation be done by CFX to the board sometime in the September time frame.  Although MetroPlan cannot help with the funding, they certainly can endorse the project and ask that CFX build the road.  The MetroPlan board welcomes public comment at all their meetings.

Where do we go from here?  The advisory group recommended continuing to move forward with the current plan.  The study is almost complete.  If that is what CFX decides anticipate another community meeting soon to ask for more public comment on this plan.

Stay tuned as the saga continues.

 

 

 

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