Plans to widen County Road 466A to four lanes from U.S. Highway 27 west to the Sumter County line continue to move forward with help from The Villages.
Recently, the Lake County Commission approved an agreement that allows The Villages to construct about 1.4 miles of the western segment of CR 466A at a cost of $7.1 million.
In return for funding the construction of the western segment of the project, known as Phase 2, The Villages will receive transportation impact fee credits, county documents state.
“Basically the project is moving forward through Villages funding,” said Fred Schneider, Lake County engineer, explaining Phase 2 could not be completed otherwise.
Gary Moyer, vice president of development for The Villages, did not return phone calls and an email for comment.
Once constructed, the road will run past the 987-acre Pine Ridge Dairy Tract in Fruitland Park where The Villages of Lake-Sumter Inc. plans a 2,038-home development.
The 3-mile 466A widening project will be done in three phases: Phase 1, or the eastern portion, will span Sunny Court to U.S. 27; Phase 2, or the western portion, will run from the Sumter County line to Cutoff Road; and Phase 3, or the middle portion, will stretch from Marguerite Avenue to Sunny Court.
While two out of three phases are funded, the middle phase of the project remained unfunded at a cost of $7 million, county officials confirmed. Overall, the project is expected to cost $25 million.
T.J. Fish, executive director of the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the difficulty lies in finding the dollars to fund the middle portion. Fish said the county has three options for funding, none of which seem to be panning out.
The first option involves funding that portion through impact fees, which would not be feasible because those fees were only reinstated this past January at a lower percentage in the northern part of the county then in south Lake. Fish said there would not be enough revenues collected from impact fees to fund that portion of the project. In the next year, county officials expect only $300,000 will be collected from impact fees in northern Lake.
The second option concerns a state grant for the project from the Florida Department of Transportation. But Fish said the DOT has already given grant money for the project.
“Even if we did get a state grant, we still have to fund 50 percent of it,” he said.
The last option is to fund the project through revenue from the penny sales tax. Currently there is no funding allocated for that project.
If the tax is approved for renewal by voters in 2015, penny sales tax revenue, which goes to capital projects, could be used to complete CR 466A, Fish said.
Gov. Rick Scott also recently allocated $1 million to the project from the $77 billion dollar state budget.
Jim Stivender, county public works director, said he expects the road work to spur economic development opportunities in the area.
“Once the road is done, people will build,” he said. “They will have a brand new road not impacted by construction.”
Fruitland Park Mayor Chris Bell agrees.
“Right now you don’t have a good corridor to get people in The Villages into Lake County,” he said.