Road to be six laned
The state wants residents’ opinions on plans to widen Maitland Boulevard from four to six lanes between Hope Road and Maitland Avenue.
On Wednesday, about 50 residents gathered around maps and chatted with Florida Department of Transportation officials during the first public meeting for the project held at the Maitland Civic Center.
Maitland Boulevard east of Interstate 4 is a vital route for commuters who live in north Orange and south Seminole Counties. The daily traffic on this artery is expected to increase from about 50,000 vehicles to about 70,000 vehicles by 2035, according to DOT.
DOT has money to design the 1.2-mile widening project in 2014, but the construction is not currently funded, said David Graeber, consultant project manager, of Oviedo-based Inwood Consulting Engineers.
DOT officials will host another public meeting in the spring and a public hearing in fall 2012, he said. They will also meet with individuals or small groups, and there’s a website where residents can submit comments and questions.
Maitland’s transportation lobbyist, Louis Rotundo, said he started discussions with DOT six years ago to get this project on their priority list. The widening, he said, is crucial for SunRail, the redevelopment of Maitland’s downtown and for Central Florida commuters.
“DOT had a realization in the process: What good is it to widen I-4 and have a beautiful interchange that dumps people on a bottleneck road and then they can’t get to Seminole County?” Rotundo said.
The project development and environmental study, which began in April, will evaluate the feasibility of the widening as well as adding bicycle lanes, sidewalks and designated bus lanes.
“There are intermittent sidewalks and no bike lanes,” Graeber said. “We are looking at filling those gaps.”
Maitland City Councilman Phil Bonus said the project has the potential to stimulate Maitland’s businesses, which pay the lion’s share of the city’s tax base. He favors a bus or trolley in a designated lane that could bring businesspeople from the SunRail station to their offices on the west side.
“It’s important to me to bring together the west side commercial districts to preserve and promote rejuvenation,” he said.
Bill Randolph, Maitland resident and member of the Metroplan Orlando Citizens’ Advisory Committee, said bus lanes are imperative. “If they don’t do that, people won’t ride the rail. If they’re going to sit in traffic, they’ll get in their cars to do that,” he said.
Pat Williamson, resident of Lake Faith Condominiums in Maitland, said she is concerned that the widening will mean taking out medians, making it impossible for Lake Faith residents to turn left onto Maitland Boulevard from Lake Faith Drive. She would like to see a traffic signal installed there.
“We’ve been there since 1972,” she said of the condo community, “and they’re slowly squeezing us out.”
Bonus said he’s glad DOT officials are soliciting feedback from the community and hopes residents will take the time to fill out comment cards.
“It’s time for a collaborative solution,” Bonus said. “Maitland Boulevard is without a doubt a giant jigsaw piece.”
The Department of Transportation wants your input on the planned widening of Maitland Boulevard. Visit http://www.maitland-sr414.com/contact.php