Around Osceola
Osceola News-Gazette

Follow Us On:

High School Football

Commission: Don’t cut Broadway lanes

Posted on Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
When a consultant came up with an idea to bring Main Street, Broadway and Emmett Street from four lanes to two, area business owners stood together to loudly reject it.
On Tuesday, Kissimmee city commissioners heard them.
Presented with a pair of plans to help the downtown business corridor become more of a destination than a thoroughfare, city commissioners instead endorsed a plan that would add a roundabout right outside of Kissimmee Police Department

Rendering/city of kissimmee
Alternate 1, above, approved by the Kissimmee City Commission on Tuesday includes new bike lanes and left turn lanes on Emmett Street, and this proposed tabled intersection at Clyde Avenue.

as a gateway to downtown, streetscape side streets (Sproule, Dakin, Monument, Darlington, Stewart), improve sidewalks, add bike lanes to Emmett and raise the level of the street at certain intersections to the height of the sidewalk to slow the flow of traffic.
It’s all in the name of the 18-month Connect Kissimmee corridor study to create a better singular theme for the 1.4 miles of road that connects John Young Parkway to Vine Street through Kissimmee’s business district.
“Alternate 1”, the plan commissioners backed, will also feature more crosswalks, medians with landscaping and turn lane improvements all through the corridor. But you won’t see them anytime soon. Tuesday’s decision is still a preliminary step in connecting Emmett, Broadway and Main. Now that a plan has been endorsed, it must be implemented to find its price tag. The design phase is slated for 2019, Kissimmee Senior Planner Randy Schrader said, and construction would begin in 2021 at the earliest.
“Alternate 5” suggested taking driving lanes away from the whole stretch and replacing them with added bike lanes and wider sidewalks that would have allowed for street-side dining at eateries.
But, as John Makinson of Makinson’s Hardware said, the plan sounded a lot like a similar one suggested two years ago that also called for back-in parking along the single lane each way.
“We’ve been through this before, although in this process you’ve been more open to listening,” he told the city Tuesday. “We all know there’s got to be change, but I’m against No. 5. People have to be able to come to my store and leave without being caught in traffic.”
Makinson said widening projects on John Young Parkway and Oak Street have affected business in downtown, and many local small businesses wouldn’t survive another.
“Tear up downtown and it’ll get even worse,” he said. “They said it would make property values go up, but I don’t want it to be when I’m out of business.”
Jackie Espinoza owns multiple Broadway properties. She said she would get over her distaste for the roundabout if it meant keeping the street’s four lanes.
“We’re hearing the voices of others who don’t live and work in downtown Kissimmee, who assembled this plan,” she said.
Commissioners all came to the same conclusion — they voted unanimously for Alternative 1 — that speeds needed to be slowed on Broadway to make it attractive to those who could be using SunRail when it arrives — eventually.
“But to use SunRail, you have to get to the station,” Commissioner Angela Eady said.
Mayor Jose Alvarez, a Realtor by trade, said he sees what other business owners see during a construction project outside their window.
“I drive a pickup as do many others. That back-in parking would have put my bumper on the sidewalk, so I fought that,” he said. “We’ve heard turning the downtown into a two-lane road is a mistake.”
More information, including maps and the alternatives not selected, can be found at www.ConnectKissimmee.com.