Little comment for transportation improvement plan

OKEECHOBEE — At this meeting, you could have heard a pin drop.

The public offered little comment Thursday as the Heartland Regional Transportation Planning Organization held public meetings at the libraries in Okeechobee and Moore Haven to get feedback on the annual regional transportation improvement plan.

Marybeth Soderstrom said the six-county group puts together a five-year plan and updates it each year.

“We are doing important projects and we do our part to move them along,” she explained.

In Moore Haven, only one resident came to comment. In Okeechobee, only County Commissioner Kelly Owens was in attendance.

Highway projects must be in the five-year plan in order to get into the State Department of Transportation work plan and receive federal funding.

The fiscal year 2018 projects for Okeechobee County include $126,859 for signal reimbursement, $3.95 million for preliminary engineering and planning services for the 710 extension road from S.R. 710 to U.S. 441, $184,966 for various sidewalks, $88,588 to do planning and $2.64 million to resurface U.S. 441 from N.E. 131st Lane to N.E. 224th Street, and $120,772 for engineering and $1.02 million to do bridge repairs on U.S. 441 over Taylor Creek.

Other projects in the 2018 plan include $46,381 to plan the resurfacing of U.S. 441 from near N.E. 304th Street to the Osceola County line, $39,711 to plan resurface of S.R. 710 between S.E. 67th Way and S.E. 48th Street, $185,251 to plan a roundabout at U.S. 441 S.E. at S.E. 18th Terrace, $831,550 for engineering and study and $1.14 million to construct drainage improvements on U.S. 98 between N.W. 9th Street and S.R. 70 west, $123,531 to widen and resurface S.E. 3rd Avenue from S.R. 70 to S.E. 4th Street, $54,006 to resurface and widen S.E. 6th Street from U.S. 441 to S.E. 6th Avenue. The plan also includes $2.64 million to widen and resurface existing lanes on CR 68 between Kissimmee Cattle Company to the end of Micco Bluff Road.

Other projects in the 2018 plan include $4 million to widen and resurface CR 721 from Underhill Road to U.S. 98 in Highlands County.

New plans for Okeechobee County include a total of $89.3 million in the next eight to ten years to complete the 710 extension. The plan includes $6.5 million in 2022 to do preliminary engineering to add lanes and reconstruct S.R. 710 from Sherman Wood Ranches to route 714 in Martin County.

Construction of the roundabout on U.S. 441 S.E. is funded in 2020, at $1.86 million. Some $7.2 million is budgeted in 2022 to resurface Lofton Road from the Kissimmee River to U.S. 98 North.

Projects in Glades County funded in the 2018 fiscal year include $67,661 for traffic signal reimbursements in the county, $50,115 for Moore Haven traffic signal reimbursement, $158,550 for a rail safety project along U.S. 27, and construction is funded at $1.62 million in 2021. The plan includes $613,813 for a rail safety project on S.R. 78 from near Canal Road to Kilpatrick Drive.

The state will also spend $1.5 million to do drainage improvements along S.R. 78.

The state will spend $13.52 million in the next two years to resurface U.S. 27 from 5th Street to just north of S.R. 78 in Moore Haven.

The plan includes $852,054 for sidewalk improvements on S.R. 78 in the next five years. A pedestrian bridge over Harney Pond in Lakeport is planned in 2021; the estimated cost is $2.99 million. The plan in 2019 includes $5.45 million to widen and resurface existing lanes on CR 74 from east of Firetower Road to S.R. 29.

The plan also includes $4.21 million to resurface CR 721 from Tucker Ridge Road to Bullhead Grade Road in 2021, and $3.72 million to resurface the rest of CR 721 to the Highlands County line in Brighton.

The state plans to resurface S.R. 78 from Banana Grove Road to the Herbert Hoover Bridge for $1.74 million in 2021, and spend $9.5 million to resurface S.R. 78 from U.S. 27 to Banana Grove Road in 2021.

Other projects in the works include a congestion management plan and a transit development plan for public transportation in the region.

The transportation improvement plan goes before the Heartland Board on June 22 in Sebring.

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