published: Friday, November 02, 2012
Highway projects moving forward
ROXANNE BROWN | Staff Writer
About 65 people, many of them landowners along the Florida Turnpike, showed up at Minneola City Hall this week to hear state road officials discuss plans to widen the four-lane highway to six or eight lanes.
Engineering graphs, charts and maps were on display as Florida Department of Transpor-tation planners and engineers stood by to answer questions.
Turnpike Enterprise spokesperson Christa Deason said that based on the sign-in log, most of the attendees were not homeowners but owners of large tracts of land along the turnpike or in the general area between State Road 50, off mile marker 272 to I-75. Many city and county officials were in attendance as well, along with those from Lake County's Metropolitan PLanning Agency.
"There were a few homeowners in place, but really, there are not a lot of homeowners along ... State Road 50 to I-75," Deason said. "It's very rural. In general, it was a good turnout and as we were expecting, most of the people who asked questions were interested in hearing about the widening plans taking the turnpike to eight lanes or the alternatives, which would be a six lane initial widening."
Among with the displays were conceptual drawings of what the roadways might look like with six and eight lanes.
In addition, officials talked about how all bridges along the turnpike would need to be demolished and replaced as part of the widening.
"This is all preliminary still since it's going way into the future, but planning is good," said Dave Yeager, owner of IMS Solutions, an environmental spill clean-up company that does a lot of work on the turnpike. "I think this is what's called master planning and if we do this right, it'll be wonderful."
Minneola City Manager Mark Johnson called the meeting "positive, informative and well organized."
"It seems everyone there was interested in what's to come in the future," he said. "The people I talked to seemed ready for it. We're a bedroom community (in Minneola) so most commuters who travel back and forth to Orlando, are looking for that reduction in commute time."
Officials explained to attendees that funding for the widening has not been secured yet, but funding for the initial design work has.
The next planning meeting for this project is scheduled for the summer of 2013, with a date still to be determined. The study process is expected to conclude in the fall of 2013, followed by the permitting process that usually takes about 2-3 years.
For information about the meeting and project, visit www.floridasturnpike.com.