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Oviedo’s historic downtown streets are getting a makeover to alleviate traffic and provide pedestrians with a little more room to walk.
The $20 million three-phase “Oviedo Ultimate” project, which had been in the works for years, got off the ground in January.
Charles Suppler, FDOT community outreach specialist, says that the improved mobility will help alleviate traffic for the over 12,000 vehicles that travel the road daily. The raised medians on Broadway Street will also help alleviate accidents by minimizing left-turn collisions. Here are the three phases of the project:
- The first phase widened State Road 434/Central Avenue from East Franklin Street to Smith Street, and included improved traffic lights, turn lanes in both directions, and additional vehicle capacity. This phase of the project is complete.
- The second phase, now underway, reconstructs and widens 1.4 miles of State Road 426/County Road 419, or Broadway Street, from Pine Avenue to Adeline B Tinsley Way and includes milling, resurfacing, drainage structures, utility improvements, retention ponds, signing, pavement markings, traffic signals and lighting.
- The third phase will connect phase two to the existing 4-lane roadway west of the Lockwood Boulevard intersection.
Florida Department of Transportation representative Peyten Maki said to that the plans called for bike lanes and 5-foot sidewalks on both sides of the expansion, as well as new retention ponds that are currently being installed in front of the Lawton House and Friendship Park on Broadway Street.
Living with the construction
While construction crews work to get the streets done on time, the looming start of the school year has some worried about how the construction will affect traffic in the surrounding area. But others aren’t concerned.
Oviedo High School Principal Dr. Trent Daniel said that the construction has not impeded traffic in any way and she has gotten weekly updates from the construction crew.
Oviedo resident Connor DiMatteo, who runs the Oviedo Farmers Market, has found the construction to be a challenge to business.
“They started the construction right in front of Lawton Elementary and so what happened there is they closed off the Broadway entrance to Lawton’s parking lot. And so in doing that, they eliminated two of our primary entrances for the farmers market,” DiMatteo said.
The Farmers Market has been suffering since the construction began with many left generally confused by how the market is operating under these conditions, DiMatteo said.
He said attendance, which is usually between 2,000-3,000 on the first Saturday of the month, has been reduced by half since the construction began. However, he said he realizes that the road work is necessary and praised the communication efforts by FDOT and the city.
“[The project managers have] been incredibly communicative with us. They have called me and emailed me on several occasions. They even provided me with a detour map to be able to send out to my vendors,” DiMatteo said.
Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek said she remains hopeful that, once the project is complete, the traffic will not only be better for Oviedo, but safer as well.
Sladek said the finals plans will make walking to and from Oviedo High School and Lawton Elementary more pedestrian friendly with large sidewalks and bike lanes.
What the future holds for Oviedo Ultimate
While DiMatteo said he has trust in the crews to finish the project by the end of August, he said he does worry about Phase 3 of the project.
“Phase 3 is really the last part that matters because you can’t alleviate the congestion in that bottleneck right there between Lockwood [Boulevard] and over down to Adeline B. Tinsley Way; it eliminates the whole good that was done by Phase 2,” DiMatteo said.
Sladek said she hopes the project will change drivers’ behaviors by pulling some of the congestion away from other roadways.
“Keep them encouraged. Once this road is complete, try [State Road] 419. Once you get off that expressway, get on [State Road] 419 instead, and that is the plan. Get on the other road now,” she said with a chuckle.