County Road 557 has been used by some motorists in the Winter Haven area as the most direct route to get to and from Interstate 4 for some time now as U.S. 27 becomes more congested by new development and the consequent new traffic lights.
Now the County Commission is working on plans to four-lane the road through the southern portion of the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern between U.S. 17-92 and Interstate 4.
At Monday’s Polk legislative delegation meeting, County Commission Chairman George Lindsey asked legislators for $12 million to purchase right of way. Polk County has already budgeted $70 million to cover estimated construction costs, he said.
Construction is still a few years out.
The question is whether in the long term the project will end at Interstate 4.
Deen Still Road and Old Grade Road are also used as shortcuts to avoid the very congested I-4/U.S. 27 interchange
In years ahead, more car and truck traffic will use that route. That could result in pressure to build a four-lane highway deeper into the Green Swamp to Deen Still Road and to rebuild sections of Deen Still Road, portions of which now flood where sections pass through swampy terrain and the minimal roadside ditches overflow, to improve traffic flow to and from U.S. 27.
Such road improvements could spur demands for increased development density to justify the public investment and revive a decades-old proposal to open that section of the Green Swamp to more development.
The land along the east side of Old Grade Road is occupied by either state conservation land or a defunct subdivision called Orlando Pines that was subdivided in the 1970s in the aftermath to attract gullible out-of-state investors seeking land “near Walt Disney World.”
The west side has fewer owners including a handful of homesteads. Although this may unrelated, someone is trying to assemble property there by filing adverse condemnation actions.