State of the City: Hurricane Ian, improving traffic, and future developments

In a year marred by one of the worst storm seasons the area has ever seen, city officials presented the highlights and challenges faced in 2022, as well as what’s in store for the future of Oviedo during its annual State of the City address on March 1.

Hurricane Ian, which hit Oviedo in late September, dumped 23.5 inches of rain in a single overnight period, leading to more than 41,000 cubic yards of debris and impacting numerous key sites throughout the city, including Riverside Park and the key Little Creek and Sugarberry stormwater retention ponds. 

“They say [Ian was] a 1,000-year storm, but it’s now going to be, probably, a 100-year storm,” Councilman Keith Britton said during the presentation. “So that’s something we’re going to have to deal with in the future.”

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Due to the storm, the city will receive $9.8 million in recovery funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and it will be put to use to repair those and other damaged sites. The city will also work to prepare the infrastructure for future storms.

Despite the facility damage, the city’s infrastructure remained resilient, with no loss of water or wastewater services.

“That boded well for us,” Britton said. “If you read the papers, you’ll notice other neighborhoods weren’t that lucky. It’s a mess to clean up when that happens.”

Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek speaks at the State of the City event. Photo courtesy of the City of Oviedo.

On the horizon

In addition to the preparations for future storms, the city is also focused on a number of upcoming development projects:

  • The Ellington at Oviedo Park, at Mitchell Hammock Road and Clara Lee Evans Way, which will contain both retail, such as Jinya Ramen Bar, CFS Coffee and Violet’s Ice Cream Boutique; and multi-family residential units.
  • Stonewood Plaza, at the corner of Alafaya Trail and Alexandria Boulevard, will house a Wild Fork Foods, a meat and seafood market.
  • The Food Factory at Oviedo on the Park, which will house multiple micro-restaurants, a bar and an outdoor seating area.
  • Longhorn Steakhouse in the Winn-Dixie shopping plaza off of Lockwood Boulevard
  • City Place Townhomes at Oviedo on the Park will offer luxury live-work townhomes
  • Verax Oviedo Medical Office, which will be a 27,000 square-foot medical center off of Oviedo Mall Boulevard and Broadway Street and will be anchored by Orlando Health Imaging Center
  • The Dwell, on Oviedo Mall Boulevard and Broadway Street, will be a 296-unit apartment complex
  • The Wedding Barn, a family-owned and operated facility on the corner of Oviedo Boulevard and Franklin Street
  • The historic downtown and Water Tower District plans, which are in the conceptual phase, would include mixed-use space, retail, multi-family housing and restaurants 

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The city’s comprehensive plan was adopted in June 2022, and provides for future land use, traffic circulation, housing, public utilities, conservation, recreation, open space capital improvements, intergovernmental coordination and public schools. The city is also rewriting its land development code and updating the 2040 downtown master plan.

“We’re planning for the future,” Councilman Bob Pollack said. “The comprehensive plan is basically, kind of like the constitution for the city.”

A more mobile Oviedo

With all of the new development in the works, the city’s mobility plan will be key in allowing flow of traffic – vehicle, bicycle, foot and other types – throughout. Oviedo currently has 137 linear miles and 318 lane miles of roads. 

“If you took all the roads in Oviedo, and you line them up, we could get all the way to Key West, with just the roads in Oviedo,” Councilwoman Natalie Teuchert said.

While the city’s 2045 mobility plan is still in draft – the 10-year mobility plan was adopted in December – city officials are being sure to focus on prioritizing how people move around the city, accessibility, safety, interconnectivity and utilizing “multimodal designs that encourage equitable designs for all users, not just automobiles,” according to the presentation.

The plan will also focus on creating spaces for electric bicycles, scooters and other alternative modes of transportation to be used safely and efficiently throughout the city. To do so, a corridor study was performed, and proposed concepts for the redesigning of current roads. For example, to cut the amount of road to cross on Alafaya Woods Boulevard from 40 feet to 20 feet or less, the city could break up the road with sidewalks, trees or other pathways, making it safer for pedestrians. 

“We’re really trying to shift our thinking as we move forward and develop some of these streets a little better on how we can prioritize moving people versus just cars,” Teuchert said. 

To make the city more walkable, sidewalk replacements are planned for the Alafaya Woods, Kingsbridge West and Live Oak Reserve neighborhoods.

“It’s a big issue,” Tuechert said. “[Damaged sidewalks can cause] issues with wheelchairs, trips, falls. It’s a big hazard.”

Though non-car movement is a major focus in the mobility plan, the city is currently working to make the roads safer and better for drivers. The city’s road paving plan began in 2016 and goes until 2030, and is making progress throughout the city. 

In 2023 and 2024, the road paving will be done in order of age of infrastructure and focus on areas hit hard by Hurricane Ian, including Alafaya Woods Boulevard, Twin Rivers Boulevard and parts of Mitchell Hammock Road. 

There are other mobility improvements planned, as well:

  • Adding an additional westbound turn lane from East Mitchell Hammock Road to Alafaya Trail
  • Adding a turn lane from Lockwood Boulevard to Geneva Drive
  • Potentially adding a raised barrier or median in the middle of Mitchell Hammock Road for safety purposes
  • Working with Seminole County on adding three roundabouts, one at MacTavandash Drive, one at Hammock Lane and one at Artesia Street
  • Adding a Geneva Drive realignment and connector road in Historic Downtown Oviedo (That’s the construction seen behind the Oviedo U.S. Post Office plaza) 

“We understand the challenges we face,” Teuchert said. “We’ve got a lot of people, we have a lot of roads and we have some traffic. But we have some plans to work on that and we’re working on it.”

Other news and notes

  • Oviedo received more than $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. More than $9.5 million of it will be used for utilities, with the rest being used for upgrades and maintenance of recreation areas and facilities; police and fire department renovations, upgrades and vehicles; sidewalk and street repair and other qualified city needs. ARPA fund plans have evolved over time. 

“The responsible thing for us to do was to take it and use it as wisely as possible, and that’s exactly what we did,” Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek said. “We went and we looked at the projects we were already going to need to do anyway, and that’s what we spent the money on the best that we could.”

  • The Oviedo Police Department earned the Excelsior Recognition by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc., which is the highest level of achievement a criminal justice agency can achieve.
  • Oviedo was named one of the 10 safest cities in Florida by Moving Waldo, Safewise and Ramsey Solutions. These reports on based on FBI crime data.

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