The Florida Department of Transportation is moving ahead slowly on plans to widen State Road 70 from Lorraine Road east to County Road 675.
FDOT officials held an Aug. 6 public hearing at Risen Savior Lutheran Church to gather more input and concerns from impacted property owners in the area. It has allocated $10.2 million in its fiscal year 2020 and 2021 budgets for acquiring the right of way needed for the 6.1-mile project.
The project would widen S.R. 70 from Lorraine Road to just east of Post Boulevard/Greenbrook Boulevard to three lanes in each direction; from just east of Post/Greenbrook boulevards to the future Bourneside Boulevard to four travel lanes (two in each direction) with room to later expand to six lanes; and from the future Bourneside Boulevard to County Road 675 (also called Waterbury Road) to two travel lanes in each direction.
FDOT also would signalize the intersection of S.R. 70 at Post/Greenbrook boulevards and construct roundabouts at the future Uihlein Road, Del Webb Boulevard and the future Bourneside Boulevard in Segment 2, as well as at Lindrick Lane/197th Street East, 213th Street East and 225th Street East/Panther Ridge Trail in Segment 3.
FDOT Project Manager David C. Turley said the roundabouts would help control speeds along S.R. 70 and provide a traffic-calming effect. Proposed speed limits within the stretch range from 45 to 50 mph, but motorists would slow to 25-30 mph to travel through the roundabouts.
“This is our preferred alternative,” Turley said. “This is what we want to go with.”
Turley said the project will be divided into two segments, with the first one, collectively from Lorraine Road to Bourneside Boulevard, slated for construction in fiscal year 2023. Construction likely will take two to three years, but a specific timeline will be determined closer to the start of the project.
He said the final segment is in FDOT’s five-year plan with construction anticipated in fiscal year 2025. It also would take two to three years to complete.
At the public meeting, some residents of Panther Ridge said they liked the conceptual plans and believe the design will be good for their community. They said the widening is needed to accommodate growth and increases in traffic but that the roundabouts will slow vehicles and provide them with better access to their neighborhoods.
“I’m thrilled,” Panther Ridge resident Leslie Emery said. “We need the road system to change. I like the fact the roundabouts keep the speed limits low and the speeding in control. It’s a problem now.”
As a horse owner and trail rider, she also said she worried about crossing a four-lane S.R. 70. It currently has two lanes there.
Panther Ridge’s Tracee McEwen said she had been concerned about crossing S.R. 70 on horseback and was glad FDOT added to the plans a roundabout at 197th Street East/Lindrick Lane, where there’s a horse trail.
“Just adding that and changing the speed limit is going to help some,” she said.
She has suggested FDOT add flashing yellow signs to enhance existing horse-crossing signs along S.R. 70.
James Michaels, who lives in the easternmost section of Panther Ridge, said he worried about noise increases as westbound semi-trucks slow to enter into the first roundabout. The low-frequency braking sound will have a greater impact in his neighborhood than anywhere else in the project.
He asked FDOT to reevaluate projected noise volumes near his neighborhood, rather than relying on a projectwide average. He suggested some sort of noise abatement, such as a sound barrier wall, should be considered.