3/12/2016 – Cost of 408 extension

Many of us have seen the plans to extend the 408 from the end at Hwy 50 to 520 with one option being an elevated highway. It seems we aren’t the only ones with this idea. The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority voted to spend about $2.6 million for an engineering firm to update plans for elevated lanes over Gandy Boulevard in Tampa. The total cost of the 1.6 miles will be between 165 million to 190 million.

This is about the same distance as our “Segment 1″ which runs from the end of the 408 to Avalon Parkway. From Avalon Parkway to 419 is about twice this distance so it would cost over 300 million for “Segment 2″ alone so a very ball part estimate puts Segment 1 and Segment 2 at about 450 million. That is a lot of money. Can CFX absorb that cost as this extension will not pay for itself for many years to come. I certainly hope CFX can work magic as we need this road desperately. Then comes “Segment 3″ which goes from 419 to 520 and is the same length as both Segment 1 and Segment 2 combined so double the amount comes out to 900 million.

My disclaimer is my estimates are based on nothing more than the cost of the elevated highway over Gandy Boulevard. We are way to early in the project for CFX to estimate the cost so don’t take these numbers as anything more than my math. They did not come from CFX. Does this seem right or am I way off base?

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3/8/2016 – SR 408 PD&E Study Public Workshop

CFX invites you to an Alternatives Public Workshop regarding potential transportation improvements to SR 408 Eastern Extension from State Road 50 to the SR 50/State Road 520 intersection in east Orange County. The purpose of this Public Workshop is to provide the public with an opportunity to review and comment on the alternatives developed for the project. Representatives from the PD&E Study team will be present to answer your questions concerning the presentation, display boards and the alternatives evaluation process and results.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at the Eastpoint Fellowship Church, located at 15060 Old Cheney Highway, Orlando, Florida 32828.

SR 408 PD&E Study Public Workshop

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Traffic in East Orange County

2/14/2016 – Here’s what I know about the latest on roads in East Orange County

Here is what I know about the roads.

The Grow conceptual site plan

Let’s start with the project at Lake Pickett called “The Grow” which is the transmittal phase now and due to come up for an approval hearing soon.

“The Grow” is contributing 28 million in impact fees and proportional share money that will be allocated like this.  16 million will be used to advance the widening of Hwy 50 from the Econ bridge to 419.  This widening is on the FDOT long range plan but is currently unfunded.  When it does become funded and the money is allocated, the state will send the money back to Orange County, not “The Grow”  to be used somewhere on Orange County roads.  The other 12 million will be used to widen 419 from Hwy 50 to Lake Pickett Road.  This is the contribution from “The Grow” to the road issues we have in East Orange County.

What about the other county roads?

Over capacity segments in 2030

As you may know the mayor secured 300 million in bond money for Infrastructure that is under a name “INVEST in Our Home for Life” but is just called “Invest”.  200 million of this is allocated to the roadway system while the other 100 million to other infrastructure needs such as 15 million for bike and pedestrian improvements and other multi-modal transit projects.  28 million has been designated to be used in East Orange County.  Orange County is planning on widening McCulloch to 4-lanes from N. Tanner Road to Lockwood Blvd.  This will take a portion of the “Invest” money allocated to East Orange County.  The county does not currently have plans for the remainder of the funding until a traffic study is completed which is either underway now or will be underway soon.  The study is being paid for with “Invest” money.  We will not know where this money will be used or how until this study is complete.

Everything is on the table and is being considered in this traffic study but nothing is decided which includes the following:

  • A bridge over the Econ at McCulloch.  Notice I did not say to 419 but is certainly being considered
  • Widening Lake Pickett to 4 -lanes
  • A road from Lake Pickett to Woodbury
  • Widening Lake Pickett from Percival to Hwy 50
  • The Richard Crotty Parkway
  • Anything else that is discovered

408 Expansion Corridor Map

Let’s dispel some myths that I have heard people say are definite.  Nothing is cast is stone such as:

  • Widening Lake Pickett from Percival to Hwy 50 is not cast in stone
  • A road from Lake Pickett to Woodbury is not cast in stone
  • A bridge over the Econ at McCulloch is not cast in stone

Let’s not forget the extension of the 408.  The second project group meeting is coming up and I will have an update in 2-3 weeks.

I have also heard that MetroPlan is performing a traffic study of the entire region which is a separate study from the one Orange County is performing so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.  Keep in mind these studies take time.  Many months in fact so be very patient.

It is great to see this focus and attention to our area and plans coming together to fix these roads.  But we still have a long way to go.

Richard Crotty extension

For example, the Richard Crotty Parkway, the red line on the map.  I cannot imagine the traffic studies not showing this road as a vital part of the roadway system.  We need another east-west road to move traffic.  We need connectivity from east-west to really create efficiency in our road system.  See a prior post about “Who Lives IN The DMZ Zone” and the second one called, “What is the DMZ Zone“.   Watch this video to see the DMZ Zone and connectivity.  I cannot imagine a bridge over the Econ at McCulloch unless the Richard Crotty Parkway is part of this study.  What that would do is have three east-west roads in the Rural Service Area crossing the Econ funneling down to two inside the Urban Service Area.  That would make no sense at all.  But Research Park is not too excited about the Richard Crotty Parkway and UCF is silent and neutral.

Also, Seminole County is not to thrilled with widening McCulloch or crossing the Econ at McCulloch so we will have to see how that plays out.

Sustany conceptual site plan

Let’s also not forget Lake Pickett North which was called “Sustany”.  I have heard this is coming back most likely in the the 2016 second cycle so we will have to see what that project looks like and how this will impact traffic.  The 2016 second cycle is from about September, 2016 to March, 2017 so the application will be submitted and you can expect community meetings a couple of months before September/October time frame.

But I am encouraged that we are moving in the right direction.  I have to admit I was somewhat dejected a while ago until I talked to some people recently and learned much of what I am relaying on to you.  In the world of Infrastructure wheels turn very slow and patience is all important.  All we can do is keep moving and keep coming up with ideas on how to keep this issue at the forefront in the minds of our elected officials to ensure we get the attention we deserve.



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296 multi-family apartments going in just east of the 408 on Hwy 50

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Community Meeting for the 296 apartments proposed just to the east of the 408 on Hwy 50. They are on the corner of Bonneville Road and Hwy 50. I was not in favor of the apartments.
The apartments look very nice and the concept is good. They are higher end apartments catering to professionals and will not be student housing. The developer is the same group who put in the apartments on the north side of Hwy 50 to the west of Woodbury next to the Publix. I think they are called EOS apartments.
But with that said, I am not in favor of these apartments given our current traffic woes here in East Orange County. The timeline to complete these apartments if approved is the end of 2017 which is right about the same time as the 6 laning of Hwy 50 will be complete. We already know that even 6 laning Hwy 50 is only a temporary fix and the hope is the 408 will be extended but there is no guarantee of that happening as the study is in process now and won’t be completed for another year.
The traffic from these apartments will only add to the existing bottleneck. Traffic in the morning will try to find alternative way to go east and some will end up on Lake Pickett to Tanner and onto the already over-burdened McCulloch Road as it is the only other east-west roadway. Until we have a solid plan on how traffic on McCulloch is going to be reduced, it would be very negligent to approve this apartment complex.
In addition to this the parcel of land is actually 20 acres and these apartments will occupy only 10 of the 20. This could be the reason the application is under 10 acres as that is considered small scale and has less hurdles to jump over. So what happens down the road to the other 10 acres. Perhaps another 300 unit apartment complex or commercial which will add more congestion. I don’t see how the landowner will leave 10 acres undeveloped.
I sort of feel sorry for the landowners and developer of this property as they have a great idea and I am sure the apartments are great but with all our traffic problems this is just at the wrong time and place. This is like blocking the smallest part of an hour glass as these apartments will be at ground zero of all the problems on Hwy 50.


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Traffic on McCulloch – 1/11/2016 – the semester has begun!

This video shows traffic on McCulloch Road on November 18th at 8 am when UCF was in session, on December 16th when the semester ended and also traffic on the first day of the semester – 1/11/2016. All of these times were at about 8 am. This morning was chaotic for drivers on McCulloch. It is apparent that traffic dramatically increases when UCF semester is in session as opposed to when it is not.

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Watch this video with suggestions to help make UCF roads more bike friendly

I rode through UCF on my bike to see what kind of improvements the roads needed to make them more bike friendly. You may not know this but Orlando and Central Florida has one of the worst bike and pedestrian records in the country. I was expecting to find a drastic need for bike lanes and other major improvements but what I found was quite surprising. While there is need for improvement, I didn’t find anything drastic. With some minor effort the roads could be made much safer for cyclists.

So why don’t students commute more on bicycles to school. My feeling is the main problem is driver awareness. I am under the firm belief that most drivers don’t think bikes should be allowed on the roads much less be in the same lane as a car. This is the mindset that must change if we ever expect our roads to be safer for pedestrians and cyclists which in turn will help reduce traffic congestion.

This video shows some very simple and inexpensive ways to greatly improve the roads inside UCF and make them safer for cyclists. I believe the cost of these simple changes will pay back in dividends with a reduction in energy costs, parking spaces and even health benefits.

Please share this video to help make these changes within UCF to get more people commuting by bicycle.

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12/24/2015 – Rriding down McCulloch Road on the sidewalk

Some people asked why not use the sidewalk to commute by bike.

Knowing people would wonder about this, I put together this video showing riding down McCulloch Road on the sidewalk which is about as much fun as riding on the road.

This is on 12/23/2015 at 9:45 am. Our sidewalks are great for pedestrians but not so good for cycling. Especially cycling to commute. Commuters want to get where they are going fast and not be burdened trying to navigate pot holes, uneven pavement, mud, debris and especially dangerous crosswalks that requires slowing or stopping. Crosswalks are very dangerous to cyclists because drivers aren’t expecting a bike to cross. Driver are looking for cars and want to get out into the flow of traffic so sometimes a bike crossing and is not seen. Many drivers also expect the bike to stop and give way to the car. Also, most sidewalks are not wide enough for two bikes to pass safely.

We must make our roads safer for cyclists and change this culture to get people using bikes more and more to help control traffic congestion.

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12/21/2015 – Environmentally Sensitive areas and Development – Part I

East Orange County has traffic problems but it is also under increased pressure to be developed which will affect humans but also affect the environment and wildlife.

Here is a short video showing how development and roadways can impact wildlife. The video shows a discussion at the PNZ (Planning and Zoning) meeting and is not in our area but the gentleman who spoke during public comment made some very important points. This is Part I.

The followup video, Part II, will bring all these thoughts home and relate it to the environmentally sensitive area between the Econ and St. Johns. You will see it in a few days.

We need to ensure the CRC (Charter Review Committee) really understands how important this area is and why it needs to be protected. Please share this video and the followup.

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12/18/2015 – Traffic on McCulloch comparing when UCF is in session and not

Want to see what traffic looks like when UCF is in session and the day after the semester ends. This is quite interesting and should erase any question about where most of the traffic goes on McCulloch Road.

Extending Research Parkway to N. Tanner will fix this problem.

Nov 18th is no particular day. It is just a random day I decided to video and not because traffic was heavy. It was just because. Dec 16th was intentionally picked because it is the day after the semester ended. Both days were at 8 am.

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