Oakland officials have an idea that would give cyclists, walkers and runners many more options when it comes to non-vehicular travel around the West Orange County town.
Staff submitted three weeks ago a grant application to MetroPlan Orlando in hopes of creating a detailed plan that would give residents and guests added access to the West Orange Trail, West Colonial Drive and other new pathways.
MetroPlan is the transportation planning agency for Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
The proposal requests funds of $60,000, with the town providing $5,000. MPO is reviewing and prioritizing the applications this month, and then the list of requests goes to an advisory committee.
The town will be notified in September whether it will receive all, some or none of the grant request. The money would be spent on forming a steering committee, holding community meetings to gather ideas and input, and analyzing traffic patterns and pedestrian numbers.
“This is to take advantage of our own resources here and do the planning that we need here,” said Town Planner Jay Marder. “We have this fabulous West Orange Trail. That is our main street in many ways, and they want to capitalize on that. One of the best ways to do that is to develop your own bicycle-pedestrian mobility plan — all the ways we can get from here to there. Look for ways to tie our neighborhoods together. And once you have that plan … you can identify projects and go after those projects.”
Ideas have been discussed recently, he said.
“The idea is to bring all these loose ends and all these thoughts together into a real-life plan, which is planning something new,” Marder said.
The town planner listed some possible projects: new and enhanced connections to the trail, pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly amenities and additional facilities for West Colonial Drive, connections to the south side of Colonial and enhancement with other westerly areas adjacent to Lake County and Clermont, connections with Killarney down Jones Road, a connection to Hull Island, an educational and historic trail connecting the black and white cemeteries, and a connector between Colonial and Oakland Avenue.
After coming up with the projects, the town’s next step would be to apply for grants.
“It’s a whole livability healthy sustainable way to go today,” Marder said. “Our community’s attracting hundreds of thousands of people who are riding that trail every year. We don’t have this type of plan at this time, and we need it.”
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].