Tackling traffic: Residents get early look at county’s Neptune Road project

Traffic on Neptune Road, east of Partin Settlement Road, was backed up Monday afternoon.

Widening Neptune Road – a vital connector between Kissimmee and St. Cloud – is number one on Osceola County’s list of construction priorities.  

Before work can begin though, a lengthy $1.5 million Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study must first occur. The study was launched last fall and planning staff isn’t expected to wrap up until January or February 2020.

But on April 11, residents had a chance to ask questions, give comments and see what planners and consultants have accomplished so far during a community meeting held at the Osceola County Administrative Building.

The affected roadway stretches just under four miles along Neptune Road from U.S. Highway 192 to Partin Settlement Road. The area narrows to two lanes at various points, which can cause congestion, gridlock and accidents that the new project aims to remedy. According to Florida Department of Transportation crash statistics, accidents along the affected area have steadily increased over the years, from 42 cases in 2014 to 108 in 2017.

The overall number of vehicles traveling along Neptune also increased about 18 percent from 2010 to 2017.

Poster board displays of alternative designs and evaluations were posted at the April 11 community meeting for residents to view, as well as a looping video presentation explaining key takeaways.

The whole Neptune Road project is divided into several parts. Here are some highlights.

From Partin Settlement Road to Ames Haven Road.

Both alternatives being considered for this section include a four-lane divided roadway with 11-foot wide lanes. There would also be a 4-foot bicycle lane and a 12-foot recreational path provided on both sides of this 1.8-mile stretch.  

In Alternative One, widening occurs mostly to the north of Neptune Road and a minimum of 130 feet of right-of-way is needed.

Alternative Two widens Neptune Road mostly to the south, requires the relocation of power poles and at least 139 feet of right-of-way.

From Ames Haven Road to Old Canoe Creek Road.

There would be widening on both sides of the street along a one-mile section of Neptune stretching from Ames Haven to the canal by the Florida’s Turnpike.

Widening on the south side of Neptune Road would then occur for another half mile from the canal to Old Canoe Creek Road.

A minimum of 130 feet of right-of-way is required.

From Partin Settlement Road to Old Canoe Creek Road.

This section will have a major impact on surrounding neighborhoods, with right-of-way effecting between 58 and 75 residential parcels. Another six to eight non-residential parcels could be impacted.

Between 9 and 25 residential relocations could take place along this 3.4-mile section. It comes with a big price tag, too. Construction costs without right-of-way land acquisition is estimated between $39 and $40 million and up to $4 million in utility relocation costs.

There isn’t any adverse impact to wildlife expected here, but there are medium impacts to wetlands and flood plains.

From Old Canoe Creek Road to U.S. Highway 192.

Two alternatives are being considered for this half-mile section.

Alternative A includes a four-lane, undivided road with 10-foot lanes, a 10-foot recreational path on the north side of Neptune and a 6-foot sidewalk on the south side. It’s not expected to require additional right-of-way.

Alternative B calls for a five-lane road with 10-foot lanes and an 11-foot center left-turn lane where a median is being considered in various spots. There would also be a 10-foot recreational path on the north side of Neptune along with a 6-foot wide sidewalk on the south side. It would require some additional right-of-way on the north side.

There are no relocations required for either alternative.  

Construction costs for this section could range from $3.3 million to $3.5 million and no utility relocation costs are expected.

There are no expected environmental or wildlife impacts to this area.

County and consulting staff will fine-tune project details and data before hosting a final public input meeting in January.

Finally, staff will make a presentation to county commissioners, who will choose whether to build the project or not.

Funding will dictate how quickly construction occurs. Design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction could take five to six years, said  Josh DeVrives, director of planning for the county.  

The county has created a website where residents can stay informed about the Neptune Road project and submit comments. Visit www.improveneptuneroad.com for details.