FDOT updates Ocoee on State Road 50 widening

Officials maintain summer 2017 as the end goal, currently at about half completion.

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  • | 9:06 p.m. May 17, 2016
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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OCOEE  Since September 2015, Florida Department of Transportation contractors have been working on Phase II of the five-phase State Road 50 widening project from four lanes to six lanes in Ocoee.

FDOT officials visited Ocoee City Commission at its May 17 meeting to report on progress, which is at 49.3% overall as of the meeting, they said.

Work began May 11, 2015, with an original contract amount of $37.5 million, of which Ocoee is paying $1.96 million and FDOT Utility costs are $310,000.

Phase II consists of shifting traffic into the northern part of the roadway while the future eastbound lanes are constructed on the southern part, designers said. Phase III is tentatively scheduled for September, when crews will reverse the process -- the permanent eastbound lanes will hold traffic on the southern portion of West Colonial Drive while workers form the westbound lanes to the north.

Officials said Phase IV, which deals primarily with completing final median work, should start around April 2017. Phase V would follow in May 2017, when crews would finalize pavement, signals, signs and striping for the final roadway configuration and reach completion in the summer.

In response to concerns for safety and access to businesses, FDOT personnel reviewed access management protocol, which pertain to planning locations and operations of driveways, interchanges, street connections and -- especially in this case -- median openings. Officials said they have been trying to find the proper balance of minimizing the potential for crashes while maintaining reasonable business access, but resident Henry Morgan reiterated his concern for what he deemed lessened access for Hardee's, Twistee Treat, CircleK and others.

"The lady that runs the CircleK was aghast," Morgan said. "She's having trouble convincing higher-ups (access) will be better when work is done."

Morgan also disagreed with FDOT recommendations regarding U-turns at the Bluford Avenue and Maguire Road intersections, as well as a stacking turn lane of about 1,100 feet he called too lengthy. He suggested the maximum of 18 conflict points at the Maguire Road intersection could be alleviated by having a median cut-through for Hardee's and other businesses in the nearby plaza -- which would also enhance traffic to those businesses.

"It just seems like common sense," he said. "Please look at it again."

Assistant District 5 Traffic Operations Engineer Chris Cairns said more than 15 years of replacing left-turn lanes with certain alternatives had essentially universally resulted in plummeting crash rates. U-turns would be problematic only for cars turning right on red, which tends to produce a few low-speed crashes at most, he said.

"Even if we took away turn-lane lengths, we still have the potential of people turning across queues," Cairns said.

Resident Jim McNicol said timing on traffic lights among West Colonial Drive, Maguire Road and Old Winter Garden Road has caused major backup at most daylight hours, so adding a U-turn there would be madness.

He and the commission shared Morgan's concern about business access, especially considering a cut-through not far east for Wendy's and Chick-Fil-A in front of Walmart is part of plans. Cairns said that likely would be due to distance from traffic lights, but District 4 Commissioner Joel Keller said traffic flow seemed similar and wondered how to tell proprietors at Hardee's and its neighbors a difference exists. Cairns said crash history and other variables are considered, and he would report concerns to supervisors.


  • Commissioners and Ocoee Police Department heads again discussed specifying a decibel limit in its noise ordinance, pertinent to complaints about a few locations after midnight. Police Chief Charlie Brown said officers had been using decibel meters to determine what levels would be acceptable.
  • Commissioners unanimously approved two purchases for the police department. One is to outfit a specially selected officer with SWAT equipment and training for a task force of Ocoee, Winter Garden, Apopka, Winter Park and Maitland that will cover all five municipalities. The other is a purchase of 10 tasers with 10 free body cameras -- which police intend to launch a pilot program in -- and an added five replacement tasers and two tasers for new personnel. Body camera recordings are contracted with Evidence.com, with the combined purchase and contract budget at $45,092.


Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].


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