More Details Emerge On East Polk Toll Road Plans; Unless You’re A Developer Or A Consultant, The News Is Not Good

You have to scroll down into the Transportation Planning Organization’s Dec. 15 agenda backup (they say it is at page 40, but is really at page 76) to find out what’s happening with the controversial eastern leg of the Central Polk, Parkway.

This is a proposed toll road that would potentially loop someday from State Road 60 on the south side of Winter Haven through rural areas of northeast Polk County to reach Interstate 4 somewhere near the interchange with another toll road that loops along Orlando’s western suburbs.

If you think the route to Orlando on I-4 congested now, just wait a few years. It will be a lot worse if these plans come to fruition.

Although there is the obligatory disclaimer that the decision on whether to construct these roads will require analysis per Florida law, it is hard to imagine that the Florida Department of Transportation and its allies in the development and road-building lobby would propose to spend $918.9 million (that’s almost $1 billion) on engineering and environmental studies and right of way acquisition on a road project they have no intention of constructing unless the state is amazingly fiscally irresponsible.

What is really interesting is that the rationale for this road project is partly to relieve congestion on U.S 27. There is quite a bit of local traffic on U.S. 27 that area residents contend could be relieved if only the section of U.S. 17-92 between Haines City and the Osceola County line were widened to four lanes.

In the latest funding proposal, that project has been defunded. It may be no coincidence that much of the undeveloped land along that segment is marginally developable, if you believe in coincidences.

This project was shelved several years ago because it was considered not economically feasible. Times and politics change and urban sprawl is on the rebound as the economy improves.

Besides, the Polk County growth plan is subject to change at any moment to allow more and denser development. The cost of providing services will come later.

State growth management laws were tossed out the window years ago and transportation and any other kinds of concurrency have become museum artifacts.

Prepare for the worst.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.