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East County Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 1 year ago

State works toward longterm S.R. 70 vision

Lakewood Ranch residents say state should go to appropriate lengths to plan for expected growth.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

As the Florida Department of Transportation evaluates the longterm future of State Road 70, some residents of the Lakewood Ranch and Myakka City communities say the state must go to greater lengths to assure the road can handle expected growth.

“People are buying acres out east, and it’s going to keep going,” Lakewood Ranch resident Marty Cohn said. “If you keep it two lanes, then you’re wasting our time.”

Lakewood Ranch’s Tom Green agreed. “You’ve got to assume you’re going to see a lot of additional growth coming,” he said.

FDOT wants to consider resident feedback as it develops plans for the S.R. 70 corridor roughly from Interstate 75 east to the St. Lucie County line.

Cohn and Green’s comments were made Dec. 9 at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall as part of the S.R. 70 Corridor Vision and Action Plan that began last fall.

The corridor passes through Lakewood Ranch, Myakka City, Arcadia, Lake Placid and Okeechobee, and town hall meetings will continue to obtain feedback from those communities.

  Corridor Visioning Workshops will be held starting in February, though dates and sites have yet to be announced. 

“It’s a big project,” said Frank Kalpakis, managing principal for Renaissance Planning, which is doing consulting work for FDOT. “We want to understand the issues, so the transportation [infrastructure] aligns with community goals. We’re in the data collection phase.”

The new FDOT program aims to help the department better integrate future land use with transportation planning by engaging the public earlier in the transportation planning processes.

FDOT and planning consultants have more town hall meetings scheduled with stakeholders in Okeechobee and Lake Placid this month about how they envision the area around them developing.

“It’s hard to develop a transportation solution if you’re not aware of land use,” Kalpakis said. “Transportation solutions can support that [community] evolution.”

Kalpakis said the efforts could include traffic calming, sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Safety improvements could also be considered.

Danny Cacciotti, a Myakka City resident and chief of Myakka City Fire District, said he pointed out S.R. 70 carries significant commuter traffic that passes through Myakka City, and there have been severe accidents. He said the road in that area should be four lanes and that traffic needs to be slowed.

Cacciotti said he likes that the state is trying to include citizen input before design decisions have been made.

“It’s a new concept the state is trying to get out there,” Cacciotti said.

Although FDOT already has developed its plan for S.R. 70 between Lorraine Road and County Road 675 — a four-lane stretch that will include signals at Post/Greenbrook boulevards and six roundabouts — Kalpakis said the planning meetings will help set the overall vision for road needs along the entire S.R. 70 corridor.

S.R. 70 across the state is primarily a two-lane roadway that runs through rural areas. However, it has been identified as a “Strategic Intermodal System,” or a high priority network of transportation facilities important to the state’s economy and mobility.

After the community workshops, FDOT will analyze the results. FDOT officials said a report should be finished in early summer 2020, likely in June.

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