An amendment came before the Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission to formalize the Long Range Transportation Plan map. This will go before the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on June 6th. The map showed a blue dotted line on Hwy 50 from the end of the 408 to 520. This was already approved by the board in 2015 and the line was just to bring the map up to date. Commissioner J. Gordon Spears who is Commissioner Bonilla’s new appointee on the board made the hearing interesting. Watch the video below and read the rest of the blog below the video.
Tip to watch video: YouTube allows you to speed it up. This is an 8 minute video but you can get through it in 4-6 minutes speeding it up.
A little background on Mr. Spears. His Linkedin profile lists him as an Environmental Services Professional working for a company for 22 years as an Ecologist. His Specialties include: Habitat mapping, geographic information systems (GIS), wetland delineation & permitting, mitigation design, protected species surveys, habitat management planning. It is not surprising that Commissioner Bonilla chose Mr. Spears as her passion is protection of the rural area.
Mr. Scott from Orange County planning presented the amendment and explained the details to the commissioners. When he finished, Mr. Spears said he didn’t think the the toll road along Hwy 50 was necessary. He thought it might be needed up to Avalon Parkway but not all the way to 520. When it came time to make a motion, Mr. Spears made a motion to accept the map amendment but excluding the 408 collocated toll road. There was no second so the motion died. Another commissioner made a motion to approve and the map amendment was passed.
I am not sure what Mr. Spears is basing his opinion as all the traffic studies show that Hwy 50 will be over-capacity in a few years and we need more lanes to move traffic. Hwy 50 cannot be expanded past 6 lanes so where do the extra lanes come from? Protecting the rural area and Econ River Basin is very important but there must be a balance between protection of the rural area and keeping up with our infrastructure needs. If the 408 extension is not built along Hwy 50 then the alternative is the pathways suggested by CFX which all cross the Econ at different points that will drastically impact the Econ River Basin and do far more damage to the environment than a road along Hwy 50. In addition, those pathways go right rural areas as well as houses and businesses.
I suppose the question that must be answered is do we need the roadway or not. I just found out that the regional traffic study the board approved a while ago for East Orange County has been approved and going out to bid. Once completed, we will know emphatically what the needs are and what needs to be done.
For a more thorough explanation of all the studies going on right now read the email below from Renzo Nastasi, the Orange County transportation manager. The links below support the email:
From: Nastasi, Renzo
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 3:07 PM
To: Mayor; Harrison, Jim
Subject: RE: I am confused
Danny (Danny Rivera is Mayor Jacobs aide)
I’m not surprised at the confusion…
There are three related projects all within the general area of SR 50.
- Widening of SR 50 from Avalon Road to SR 520 (4 to 6 lanes). The project is broken out into two sections; first from Avalon Road to Chuluota Road scheduled to be under construction in 2022 and second from Chuluota Road to SR 520 scheduled to be under construction in 2023. This is an FDOT District Five project that is in the current Work Program. Design is currently on hold so that design update and construction can be timed concurrently with the limited access project described below.Co-location of a limited access facility within the SR 50 footprint. This is a Florida Turnpike Enterprise project that is intended to co-locate a four lane tolled roadway largely within the footprint of the future six lane SR 50 project (it may be located in the median at grade, elevated or a combination of both – see concept graphics below). The Turnpike tolled facility is scheduled to start a Project Development and Environment study later this fall to assess impacts and traffic projections (see first attachment) the limits of the limited access facility are from Woodbury Road to SR 520. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2022/2023.
- The third project is related to a Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) Project Development and Environment study. This effort is a study to assess the potential eastern extension of SR 408 from its current terminus at SR 50 to SR 520 (see 2nd attachment). This initiative is to evaluate a series of potential corridors/alignments north and south of SR 50 but not within the existing or future SR 50 rights of way – the study area is generally one mile north and south of SR 50. The evaluation and selection of a preferred corridor will be selected in the October timeframe of this year. The selected project will only go forward if it can justify a future traffic demand over and above the planned SR 50 projects described above.
- In regards to Mr. Simmons’ reference to the Transportation Plan at the BCC last week. The Transportation Plan was presented to the Local Planning Agency on April 20th as a Comprehensive Plan amendment (see attachment LPA Adoption). The amendment is intended to note that within the SR 50 footprint, a co-located limited access facility will be in place in future years. This map amendment had been previously adopted by the BCC but it did not clearly depict the co-location of the limited access facility – therefore, the new map shows SR 50 as a dashed lime to indicated the co-location. The BCC adoption hearing is scheduled to take place June 6th of this year.
I hope this clears up some of the confusion. Let me know if you have any questions.