The Central Florida Expressway Authority has scheduled a series of public meetings to discuss plans for pushing new roads farther south into the Orlando suburbs in Osceola County.
The meetings, which will be in the typical open house format with maps on the walls and consultants on the floor to answer questions, will kick off Sept. 14 at the Association of Poinciana Villages Community Center, 445 Marigold Ave., Poinciana from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. . Other meetings are scheduled Sept. 19 in St. Cloud and Oct. 5 in Orlando.
The stated purposes of the new roads, for which no funding but preliminary planning has been approved yet, are the usual list. It will reduce congestion, boost the economy and connect the region.
The main concern Sierra and other environmental advocates have raised is that the sections planned through rural areas—some of the routes involve more direct routes through already developed areas—is that the roads bisect wildlife habitat, encourage urban sprawl and make fire management of conservation lands more difficult.
The sprawl could be similar to what many have witnessed along State Road 417 over the past 20 years.
This is one of a series of road projects being proposed in the region.
State transportation officials last year pulled the plug on another proposed toll road called the Central Polk Parkway in eastern Polk County that would loop through rural areas surrounding Haines City to provide a roundabout route between U.S. 27 and Interstate 4 and in central Polk between State Road 60 and the Polk Parkway.
Transportation officials concluded the road would not generate enough toll revenue to justify its expense.
Local economic-development officials, who have consistently been the main supporters of these new roads, are still lobbying state transportation officials to revive at least part of the project. They plan their own meeting early next month with turnpike officials.