Alafaya Trail Expansion- The good, the bad and the delayed

The Alafaya Trail expansion officially began February 2011 and the projected completion is June 1st, 2014.  Originally the expansion was planned to be complete in 2013 but delays have caused for the later projectionAccording to WFTV, some of the delays are due to “a last minute request by the fire department for a traffic light”, and delays from moving power lines, which “put crews eight months behind the four-mile construction project.”  Heavy rainfall and fixing the watermain below ground have also added an extra 140 days to planning.

Many people in the Eastwood, Stoneybrook, Waterford Lakes, and Avalon Park communities call this region home. According to the 2010 Census, approximately 78,133 residents resided in the South Alafaya Trail area and the number seems to be growing annually.   The construction aims to help provide a smoother journey for both drivers and pedestrians along South Alafaya Trail once finished.  According to Orange County public records, the construction “will add 2 additional lanes, a grass median, a new 5’ sidewalk and 10’ multi-purpose path.”  According to the same record, “numerous meetings were held with homeowners and businesses to complete the design.”

South Alafaya Trail is home to the Eastwood, Stoneybrook, Waterford Lakes and Avalon Park communities; photo credit MKHyde, May 2013

South Alafaya Trail is home to the Eastwood, Stoneybrook, Waterford Lakes and Avalon Park communities; photo credit MKHyde, June 2013

Juan Curi, a Chief Engineer for the Public Works Department with the Highway Construction Division in Orlando, oversees that the construction goes smoothly once it starts.  Curi and team assist “with developing the most feasible solution for any problem that may arise during the course of the work.”

Curi states, “The biggest advantage that will be realized, especially at the completion point, is the expansion in itself, going from two lanes to four.  You’ll have more capacity for vehicular transporting but also multi-use paths for pedestrians, which provides more walking surfaces.  The entire hope is that all roads will continue to improve the commute for folks.”

Two local residents share their observations and eagerness for the project to complete; Ivor Richards, who lives in North Waterford Lakes, and Natalia Moege who lives in the Stoneybrook community, expressed similar concerns and hope for these developments.  Richards, who has lived in the area for 12 years, said his biggest obstacle is “the morning, afternoon, and peak traffic times.  It affects my commute to my neighborhood Publix consistently.”  Richards says, “Yes, the expansion is very necessary with the influx of people in the area.  Well, overdue.  Happy for it, but I don’t like how long it takes.”

Waterford Lakes resident Ivor Richards' commute to his neighborhood Publix is directly affected by the expansion; photo credit MKHyde, June, 2013

Waterford Lakes resident Ivor Richards’ commute to his neighborhood Publix is directly affected by the expansion; photo credit MKHyde, June 2013

Moege has lived in the area for five years and said, “I think the expansion is very much needed; that area of Orlando is growing at an extremely fast pace and once complete, and it will make for much easier travel.  I look forward to the ease of traffic and to not having to wait so long just to get out of our main gate. The extra lane will allow the incoming cars to now be able to drive on their own lane, while the residents of Stoneybrook can easily exit the gate without having to wait.  It is already quite a hassle to get in and out of the Stoneybrook gate and now with this added construction, this can be a problem when you are in a hurry and trying to get to work on time.”

Residents of the Stoneybrook community travel amidst of the construction; photo credit MKHyde; June 2013

Residents of the Stoneybrook community travel amidst of the construction; photo credit MKHyde; June 2013

One public record, through Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson’s website, offers a Q/A forum from the community meetings on the expansion project.  One question asked about high traffic times being affected by the construction and the answer says, “The normal hours of construction will be from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.  The Contractor will occasionally need to close one lane of traffic during off-peak (between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.).  A good example of the contractor needing to close one lane of traffic would be to extend utility lines across Alafaya Trail.  Motorists should also consider adjusting their commute times to account for lower posted speed limits through the construction zone, uneven pavement, temporary pavement markings, travel lane shifts and construction vehicles operating in the area.”