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Plans for second phase of Poinciana Parkway set in motion

Posted on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 3:43 pm

By Tiffanie Reynolds

Staff Writer

Ground is moving in Poinciana, bringing with it the possibility of connecting residents to major highways in the future.

With Poinciana Parkway moving into the construction phase, staff from the Florida Department of Transportation already is working on plans for a second section of the parkway. Called the I-4 Poinciana Parkway Connector, this road will connect Poinciana Parkway from 17-92 to Interstate 4 in either Polk or Osceola County.

Residents of Poinciana were introduced to this segment in the first of several public meetings on Dec. 12. Maps hung along the walls in the main meeting room of the Association of Poinciana Villages Community Center showing the six initial possible routes currently in the works for the connector. The first option connects to World Drive and I-4 in Osceola County, the second to either I-4 directly or State Road 429, the third to County Road 532, the fourth to County Road 54 in Polk County and route five and six could connect to the planned Central Polk Parkway, which will then connect to I-4. With public input and more detailed studies of individual routes, FDOT will reduce the number of route options to one.

“We want to get the most bang for our buck. So, we want to make sure operationally it works with our traffic numbers. Also, we want to make sure that our stakeholders, our citizens, have input along the way,” Brian Stanger, FDOT district five project development and environment engineer, said.

The plans for the I-4 Poinciana Parkway Connector began in July, and was estimated to take between four to five years before any construction is started. Currently, the project is under its Project Development and Environment Study, or PD&E Study, which not only keeps in mind the impact of traffic for the future connector but also factors the urban structure of the community and any environmentally sensitive areas. This study split the connector to six possible routes, each designed to interfere with as little of the surrounding environment as possible and avoid going through any neighborhoods or commercial areas. As route options are eliminated, FDOT will conduct more studies on the environment around the proposed road to make sure that the selected road design as well as construction won’t interfere with ecosystems already there.

A resident of Poinciana for only a year, Mary, who didn’t want to give out her last name, thought that the connector was a sign of a brighter future for those living in Poinciana. Like many who live in the area, she’s dealt with abnormally long drives on the county’s two-lane roads.

“It’s just good to see that something is finally being done. We finally got the hospital here, and maybe we’ll get some more businesses down here. Because, it’s difficult. You have to go either up to Kissimmee or to Winter Haven or Haines City, because the shopping here is only a couple of Publix and Wal-Marts,” Mary said.

Ed Johnson, a resident of Davenport in Polk County, was concerned of the impact traffic will have on his neighborhood. The Poinciana Parkway toll road ends just past his neighborhood by U.S. Highway 17-92. Connecting the I-4 Poinciana Parkway Connector to that raised concerns of traffic volume near his home.

“Right now, it’s a two-lane rural road, basically. The traffic is, in essence, nothing. We’re going to go from that to this new toll road, which is going to have thousands of cars every day, going up and down. How am I going to get into my development? Is there going to be new toll devices there? Once they get to the end of Osceola Parkway, how are they going to get to I-4?”  Johnson said.

Using public input as well as other traffic and environmental studies, FDOT will come back to the public with an initial alternatives meeting in 2014, followed by a viable alternatives meeting in 2015 and a public hearing in 2016 for the final design and plan of the I-4 Poinciana Parkway Connector.