ASTATULA, MINNEOLA, HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS – What does the future hold for major roadways in central Lake County? What is the future of the Little Lake Harris Bridge? What transportation improvements are desired by the public?
Those are some of the questions to be addressed through a series of three public information meetings in these central Lake communities. Hosted by the Lake~Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the meetings will focus on three major roadways: State Road 19, County Road 561 and County Road 48.
At the meetings, the public will be provided an overview of the corridors being studied and will be instructed on how to use the FDOT ETDM website to learn more about the roadways and to log comments into the project diary.
The corridors include SR 19 from CR 561 in Tavares to US 27 in Groveland; CR 561 from SR 19 in Tavares to US 27 in Minneola; and CR 48 from SR 19 in Howey-in-the-Hills to US 27 in Leesburg.
The initiative, known as an Efficient Transportation Decision Making Planning Screen, is a prelude to any major studies that would lead to an actual construction project. The planning screen is intended to detect any fatal flaws and reflect community values that would potentially eliminate the feasibility of road improvements. Numerous agencies work with FDOT and the MPO to comment on potential impacts of roadway projects.
“It is important for the public to know that we are not planning to build anything at this time,” explained MPO executive director T.J. Fish. “We are asking for public input now because we need a plan for which corridors should be improved as traffic conditions require.”
Fish said community preferences and economic realities will probably lead to only one or two of the three corridors being someday improved. “A major piece of the road network for this area is the Little Lake Harris Bridge,” said Fish.
According to MPO and FDOT officials, the bridge between Tavares and Howey-in-the-Hills remains in adequate condition. However traffic volumes continue to rise and the 57-year-old bridge continues to age. “What we hear from the public about the bridge will help us determine what may one day happen with SR 19 and CR 48.”
Meanwhile, CR 561 serves as a major connection between northern and southern urban areas of Lake County. “More north-south traffic utilizes CR 561 than SR 19,” explained Fish. “Therefore, we need to look at that county road, as well.”
Representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation and the MPO will be on hand to assist the public with any questions. Florida’s Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) is a new way of accomplishing transportation planning and project development for major capacity improvement projects.
The ETDM process enables agencies and the public to provide early input to FDOT and MPOs about potential effects of proposed transportation projects. The goal of ETDM is to make transportation decisions more quickly without sacrificing the quality of the human and natural environments. The Lake~Sumter MPO is the regional transportation planning agency for the two-county region and Lake and Sumter counties.
The link to the project website will be enabled Oct. 16. The public is encouraged to go to www.LakeSumterMPO.com and click on the Transportation Studies/EDTM tab on the left hand column for more information.
Citizens are encouraged to attend. The first in a series of three is scheduled for:
Tuesday, October 21
5:30 - 7:30 pm
Olive Ingram Community Bldg.
25029 CR 561
Astatula, FL 34705