WINDERMERE Drivers traveling through Windermere might have to plan an alternate route for the next four to five weeks.
Starting June 19, town officials closed a segment of Park Avenue to local traffic only, between Maguire Road and the pass-through street to Lake Butler Boulevard. The road closure is in effect to expedite the construction of new turn lanes, sidewalks and a drainage system in front of Windermere Elementary, Public Works Director Scott Brown said.
“This is a corridor enhancement. It’s not only a road widening, it’s also adding pedestrian features in that didn’t exist before,” Brown said. “When done, we’ll have eastbound and westbound turn lanes into the school. In the past it was just a two-lane road, and people coming to the school had to stop and stack and back up traffic on the through street. That held everyone up and was a safety concern coming in and out of the school.”
In addition to adding turn lanes into the school, the project includes the extension and widening of the school-zone area, pushing the sidewalk farther back from the road and adding in raised curbs to enhance pedestrian and student safety.
Additionally, nearly a mile of Park Avenue will be completely rebuilt and repaved, stretching back toward town limits.
Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn added that the nearly $1 million project has been paid for by the town taxpayers, along with $200,000 in road-improvement funds received as part of the negotiations with the Estancia residential development.
“…(It) will relieve congestion at drop-off and pick-up times at Windermere Elementary School and eliminate grid lock at the Maguire Road and Park Avenue roundabout,” Bruhn said. “It is critical to keep that roundabout open as it represents the only way emergency vehicles can get to the school and our town. …This is a great example of growth paying for much-needed traffic improvements.”
The project would typically take seven to eight months to complete under a normal timeline, but the town instead decided to expedite the process by closing the road completely to allow workers full, uninterrupted access. The goal is to have the corridor enhancement complete by the first week of August, in time for the new school year.
Until then, those driving through the town this summer will need to take alternate routes to avoid the closed section of Park Avenue. Locals may use the pass-through street from Park Avenue to Lake Butler Boulevard, which allows access to Maguire Road.
The general public’s suggested route is entering onto Lake Butler Boulevard from County Road 535 and following McKinnon Road up to Windermere Road, which then meets Maguire Road.
“This is all paid for by the town of Windermere — it’s the town of Windermere tax dollars at work,” Brown said. “The town wants to thank everyone for their patience and bear with us while we get through this most important project.”
For more information, contact Brown at [email protected].