County officials introduce Avalon Road widening project

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  • | 2:27 a.m. May 14, 2015
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HORIZON WEST — With the growth in Horizon West will come growing pains, and the Orange County Transportation Planning Division is hoping to take steps now in preparation.

As part of that preparation, Brian Sanders, the chief planner of that division, presented a preliminary design study for an expansion of Avalon Road (County Road 545) April 29 at Korean Presbyterian Church.

The expansion will affect 3.66 miles of Avalon Road, from just north of Schofield Road on the western edge of Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge to past Lake Hickorynut and Hartzog Road to the south, where Village I of Horizon West will start. In four segments, crews will expand the road from two lanes to four 12-foot-wide lanes, with a 22-foot-wide green median with drains and 2-foot drains on the outside of the outer lanes, according to current plans.

Segment 1 spans one mile from just north of Schofield Road to Old YMCA Road; Segment 2 covers 0.68 miles south from Old YMCA Road; Segment 3 stretches 0.85 miles from there past Seidel Road; and Segment 4 extends from that point past Hartzog Road.

Plans for typical sections of the road call for 24-foot-wide green spaces on each side of the road with some landscaping. This green space will have a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side and a 10-foot-wide multi-use path on the west side. There will be four retention ponds spaced along the affected roadway. 

In total, the expansion will be from 60 feet across of right-of-way to 120 feet, Sanders said. Final design will take about a year, putting plan completion at May 2016 and allowing construction to begin shortly thereafter, he said. The likely order of construction would be Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 4 and Segment 1, but trip allocation — the number of vehicles driving the segments — will ultimately decide when each starts.

Officials examined expansions from the west, east and center of the road at various points along the 3.66 miles and reached a roughly $16.9 million preferred alignment of segments 1-3 expanding to the west and Segment 4 expanding east with the end of Segment 3, west in its middle and east again, as a means of straightening the bend there.

“In Segment 4 is a little bit of a meander through that segment, because you have Lake Hickorynut and other reclaimed utility facilities out there, so it was an east-west-east right-of-way expansion,” Sanders said.

The plan involves no roundabouts, and it will address needed improvements to the road, such as traffic operations and capacity, horizontal curves, future development and consistency with county policies and objectives, Sanders said.


Linda Temple, president of the Lake Hickory Nut Homeowners Association, asked about current issues with drainage and runoff near Lake Hickorynut and how the expansion would affect those issues.

“Lake Hickorynut has been one of the cleanest lakes in Orange County for quite some time,” she said. “This has never been addressed. We’re worried about this drainage.”

Temple pointed to a smaller body of water with a small canal that fed runoff into Lake Hickorynut, with erosion problems along the shores of the lake, as well.

The expansion would put an increased buffer of green space where the current road is, too close to the lake, Temple said. Thus, the traffic would be pushed an additional 24 feet away from the lake shore in areas where existing roadway is close to the lake, based on the plans.

“As part of this study, there was a preliminary drain analysis performed,” Sanders said. “Everything that falls in that road right-of-way will be coming into those (retention) ponds. Everything that has been historically just running right off the road into these ponds is going to stop. So this is going to be a much, much improved situation in terms of drainage and lake quality.”

Temple presented concerns of light pollution, as well, which Sanders said Orange County personnel would be able to contain with shields, cutoffs and other means of directing light downward instead of outward.

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].


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