Reporter

Here’s a first look at the Central Avenue project in Kissimmee

Above is a map of where the Central Avenue road project will be located.

Plans were unveiled this week for a multi-million dollar renovation of Central Avenue in Kissimmee that aims to make the thoroughfare more accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians as well as motorists.

The preliminary designs call for wider, more uniform sidewalks, bike lanes, road improvements and a possible peanut-shaped roundabout north of Central Avenue Elementary School.

The project would span about 1.7 miles along Central Avenue from City Hall to Donegan Avenue.

VHB Consulting began work on the Central Avenue Corridor Study in April 2017, and the findings were shared with Kissimmee City Commissioners Tuesday night.

Now, local leaders will need to secure grant funding if they want to move forward and make the project a reality.

Project details

Central Avenue is a heavily traveled roadway that runs through the heart of Kissimmee’s growing Medical Arts District. It also runs alongside two elementary schools to the north.

The state paid for an initial corridor study to create a Healthy Community Design that encourages “active transportation” to address the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and public transit as well as traditional vehicles, according to John Hambley, planning manager for Kissimmee.  

Some highlights of the preliminary design include:

• Improvements to sidewalks near Central Avenue Elementary.

• Designated turn lanes at the intersection of Central and Columbia as well as Central and Vine Street.

• Mid-block pedestrian crossings.

• Enhanced bus stops.

• A total rehaul of the open drainage system north of Columbia Avenue.

• New sidewalks near Highland Elementary along with stop signs to improve safety for students.

• A “peanut” roundabout at the Park Place Boulevard intersection to keep traffic moving along two off-setting intersections in this area.

The cost

The project’s price tag is substantial. All cost estimates were based on current Florida Department of Transportation figures, according to a JHB consultant.

• City Hall to Vine Street is estimated at $1.2 million. This is the section that runs through the newly created Medical Arts District.

• From Vine Street to Columbia Avenue is estimated at $1.35 million.

• From Columbia to Donegan Avenue could cost $11 million if the roundabout is installed and $9.5 if it isn’t installed.

What’s next

City commissioners told the consulting firm to finalize the report.

Now, local leaders will need to find the money to make it happen.

They will need to work with MetroPlan Orlando, the regional agency that secures state and federal funding for high-priority infrastructure projects.

Once money is secured, a design and plan study must take place before construction even begins.

In other words, it will be awhile before those familiar orange traffic cones appear along Central Avenue.