Ancient Islands Sierra has been active in commenting on the impact the coming construction of the western leg of the Central Polk Parkway will have on Marshall Hampton Reserve.
The route of the new toll road will take out the mature oak forest at the beginning of the reserve’s trail system and will force the relocation of the parking and trailhead to site farther south on Thornhill Road.
Led by Conservation Chair Marian Ryan, AISC has been pressing Florida Department Transportation officials on some key issues.
First, what kind of habitat mitigation will FDOT perform to compensate for the destruction of the forest and surrounding meadows?
Second, will there be any on-site mitigation for the impacts on gopher tortoise and any other listed wildlife species affected by the project?
Third, what kind of safety and access improvements will be made at the new access point to recognize the increased traffic that will occur around the new highway interchange that might affect visitors? The design also needs to accommodate the needs of all user groups—hikers, cyclists, equestrians—who access the trail system.
Fourth, what kind of visual and sound buffering will be planned to reduce the new highway’s impact on user experiences?