The framework is completed for a new bridge that will span nearly inaccessible expanses of tannic-colored water amid cypress stands in the Reedy Creek swamp.
A formerly unpaved county road through a rural corner of Polk County is sporting asphalt pavement and a center line.
The long-awaited Poinciana Parkway is gradually taking shape.
The Poinciana Parkway is a $150 million, 10-mile toll road that will provide another connection between Poinciana, a sprawling suburban community between Haines City and Kissimmee, and the outside world.
The new road connects Cypress Parkway and U.S. 17-92 via two existing roads: Poinciana's Marigold Avenue and Polk County's Kinny Harmon Road.
Jr. Davis Construction Company Inc. of Kissimmee is the contractor.
"It's ahead of schedule and under budget," said Atlee Mercer, chairman of the Osceola County Expressway Authority.
Ground was broken in December 2013. Traffic is expected to hit the road by June 2016.
The Polk County Commission voted in 2012 to contribute $6 million to the project to aid construction of the Polk County section.
The bulk of the road is in Osceola County, which also has assisted with the project.
Polk officials expect to be reimbursed by the Florida Department of Transportation for $3 million of the $6 million the county contributed.
INITIAL $1.75 TOLL
The initial toll will be $1.75 on the main bridge over the Reedy Creek Swamp and 50 cents for the Rhododendron Avenue extension, which will intersect with Cypress Parkway near Solivita, a community adjacent to Poinciana.
Mercer said the bridge toll will increase to $2 in 2017 and increase 5 cents per year thereafter to guarantee there will be enough money to maintain the highway.
Residents in this community of more than 50,000 who face daily gridlock on the two other routes that connect to U.S. 17-92 farther north say they are looking forward to the road's completion.
"A lot of people want to find another way out," said Solivita resident Jim Guth, adding he also supports a separate project that would eventually connect Poinciana to other toll roads in the region.
Construction of the Poinciana Parkway had been planned by AV Homes, Poinciana's developer, since the 1990s to deal with the fact that the 1970s-era development is located in a relatively isolated area surrounded by massive wetlands that limit access.
The only other roads leading in and out of Poinciana are less-traveled routes that connect to Haines City and other communities in eastern Polk County.
AV Homes invested $50 million to complete preliminary work to build the new road, but ran short of money to complete the project after the housing market collapsed during the recession.
Interest in getting the stalled project restarted led to the organization of the Poinciana Parkway Working Group in 2011.
It brought together officials from Polk and Osceola counties as well as representatives from the state transportation agencies.
Mercer chairs the panel, which still meets periodically.
County Commissioner Ed Smith pushed for the working group's formation.
Smith said the new road will improve access between Poinciana and Interstate 4 and to the Posner Center at I-4 and U.S. 27.
He said the completion of the Poinciana Parkway will coincide with the completion of the final section of Ernie Caldwell Boulevard, a new road that will connect U.S. 27 to U.S. 17-92.
Mercer said he is working with FDOT officials on the feasibility of construction of an extension of the Poinciana Parkway that would include a flyover at the U.S. 17-92 intersection.
That extension would allow traffic to continue on a new road that would connect to County Road 532, which connects to I-4 at the Championsgate development at the Polk-Osceola line.
He said that project, if it is ultimately funded and approved for permits, would reduce congestion at the intersection and eliminate concerns some residents along the Ronald Reagan Parkway corridor have had about having to deal with an additional flood of traffic on Lake Wilson Road.
"We would avoid that," he said,
Author:Brandy Murphy Phone: 407-791-3451 Dated: August 8th 2015 Views: 609 About Brandy: ...
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