Traffic Woes in East Orlando – What’s Being Done?

As you may have noticed, several of the roadways we drive on every day have been under construction in 2013. Although the construction has been a cause of some commuter frustration, these projects are necessary in order to build a better community.

The four-mile South Alafaya Trail widening project will add two lanes along with a new sidewalk and multi-purpose path when completed. County officials say the utility work is now complete – including the installation of a new water main, reclaimed water main and force main lines – and we should be driving on all four lanes in late spring 2014.

Jennifer Thompson, Orange County District 4 Commissioner and daily commuter along South Alafaya Trail says, “It may feel like the road is taking a long time to complete, but I monitor the progress daily and have regular conversations with the project engineers and know that for the most part, it’s on schedule.” She continues, “I remind residents that contact my office it took us over 10 years pleading our case to get this road widened, so a few more months is easy by comparison.”

Steve Olsen, public information director for the Florida Department of Transportation, says one of the most exciting projects for them is the widening of SR 50, commonly known as Colonial Drive. Olsen says that the project would help to smooth out the heavy traffic that often builds up on this road. The project is expected to start at the end of this year and last 30-36 months. When finished, SR 50 will have been widened from Dead Road to east of Old Cheney Highway.

“This [the widening of SR 50] will allow for better traffic flow, it will increase safety and will have updated pedestrian features,” says April Heller, a public information specialist for the Florida Department of Transportation, in a March issue of Insight.

“This [the widening of SR 50] will allow for better traffic flow, it will increase safety and will have updated pedestrian features.”

Some of the expected changes include widening the road from four to six lanes, adding bike lanes and improving intersections, sidewalks and drainage systems.
Resurfacing Projects
This year also saw the emergency repaving of Lake Underhill Road and many of the surface streets within the Avalon Park neighborhood and along Avalon Park Boulevard. The Lake Underhill project has since been completed, but the Avalon Park repaving will continue throughout the next two budget cycles, according to Thompson.
“Crews are working as hard as possible to work around busy hours and school schedules to minimize impact to area residents with this project,” says Thompson, an Avalon Park resident herself. “They are completing small sections at a time, in part, to help keep the disruption to a minimum.”

Construction Leads to More Jobs

These projects are helping to keep fellow residents from unemployment. Earlier this year, Dr. Sean Snaith, director of UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, as well as a recognized economist and professor, forecasted a steady rise in available construction jobs over the next three years in the n the April 2013 Florida & Metro Forecast 2013-2016 Report:
“The construction sector after five straight years of job losses, actually added jobs in 2012, finally joining in the labor market’s recovery,” the report states.

“Construction growth is expected to surge to 3.5 percent in 2013, 9.4 percent in 2014, 15.6 percent in 2015, and 11.5 percent in 2016,” the forecast continues.

The amounts of road projects set to begin 2014 definitely reflect that increase. Right now there are 22 total projects listed on for Orange County.

Orlando residents will face many road changes in the upcoming year, however there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

By Emily Blackwood