W192 area to swap out purple light poles for $2.1 million

This is a concept drawing of what the new streetlights will look like.

The iconic purple light poles illuminating Kissimmee’s West U.S. Highway 192 tourist corridor are set to get a modern facelift – at a cost of more than $2 million.

Last week, Osceola County’s W192 Development Authority voted to set aside more than a third of its $5.6 million 2020 budget to replace purple streetlights in exchange for new, sleeker black ones with LED lights.

The $2.1 million allocation will come from the development authority’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue.

A TIF district locks in the property value for a certain in a designated region for a set number of years, so that the county only collects taxes based on that first-year value. The additional tax revenue over the years goes into a special trust fund used only for redevelopment projects.

The current purple poles were installed over two decades ago along U.S. 192. Purple accents were also introduced to the sidewalk and bus shelters.

But Executive Director Christina Morris said it was time for a change, and brought up the idea a few months ago when the board was preparing designs for a larger corridor streetscape overhaul.

“It will help us transition to that more smoothly,” she said. “Also, the light needed an update at this point.”

The move is meant to modernize the entire tourism corridor that stretches from Hoagland to the Four Corners area. The new light fixtures will feature slim poles and rectangular shaped light fixtures.

Pedestrian lights were already replaced in a similar style last fiscal year, Morris said.

The light replacement is the largest capital expenditure in the proposed 2020 budget, which now goes to the Osceola County Commission for approval. Other proposed items include:

  • $900,000 for sign grants that reimburse business owners who already replaced their signs in fiscal 2019.
  • $500,000 for design services to bury utility lines on W192.
  • $500,000 for design of a pedestrian bridge near Margaritaville, with possible construction beginning in 2021.
  • $250,000 to design a streetscape plan near Margaritaville, for installation in 2021.

After the W192 Development Authority’s final budget is approved, it will undergo a procurement process to determine who will install the streetlights.

The development authority is also moving ahead with design plans that will create unique streetscapes in eight different areas along the U.S. 192 corridor. Morris said the group should present its final ordinance for the new guidelines to county commissioners in August or September.  

If all goes according to plan, $2.2 million will be set aside in 2021 to install new features near Margaritaville as the first step of the project. Morris said this area, as well as subdistricts near Old Town and State Road 535, were chosen first because they have the highest tourism traffic.