Students who live near Windermere High School and walk or bike to get there soon will have a safer option for their daily commute.
Orange County officially began construction on a new sidewalk along the west side of Overstreet Road in Horizon West March 5. The sidewalk is 5 feet wide and extends 1,720 feet, beginning at Beek Road and further connecting Overstreet to Ficquette Road.
When Windermere High first opened in 2017, many parents expressed concerns for their children’s safety when walking to school. The stretch of Overstreet Road in question, at the time, did not have any sidewalks or street lighting. The two-lane road also has a ditch and no shoulder.
Additionally, school busing only is available to students who do not live within two miles of campus. Per Florida State Statute, school districts provide busing to students if a hazardous condition exists within 2 miles. However, this stretch of road did not have a hazardous condition as described in the statute.
Despina McLaughlin, public information officer for Orange County, said this project has been in the works for a while now but ran into some issues along the way.
“This project has been in the works for several years and was originally put on hold due to flood plains issues on the east side of the road,” McLaughlin said. “We have since been able to relocate the sidewalk to the west side of the road to move away from the flood plain.”
Construction is moving along and expected to be completed by May 3. McLaughlin said the current estimated cost is $140,000, but that is expected to be reduced due to changes in design. According to Orange County Public Works, this is funded through the county’s Capital Improvement Plan. As of press time, the sidewalk is about 40% complete, according to the county’s ProjectTrak website.
Nearby, the traffic signal at the intersection of Ficquette Road and Overstreet Road/Ingelnook Drive was completed in January. The project was warranted based on volume and crash analysis, according to Orange County. Coupled with the upcoming sidewalk, pedestrians in the area can expect a safer commute going forward.
“This 5-foot-wide sidewalk will provide the much-needed connection from Beek Road to Ficquette Road,” McLaughlin said. “We were able to start construction earlier this month because we worked out the design issues and obtained an exemption permit from the St. Johns River Water Management District by relocating the sidewalk to the west side of Overstreet (Road).”
For more information or questions on the sidewalk construction, contact Julie Naditz at (407) 836-7998 or send her an email at [email protected].