Local News

U.S. 27 widening on schedule, barring weather delays

AVON PARK - Weather permitting, a project to widen 2.9 miles of U.S. 27 from Lake Isis Avenue to the Highlands/Polk County line is scheduled to be finished by the end of August. Valerin Group Public Information Officer Alice Ramos said the project is on schedule, barring delays from rains and thunderstorms. The road crew is now working on the shoulders of the road to prepare for the widening of the road from four to six lanes, she said. Santiago Gomez and Jonathan Cruz said they’d be glad when the work is finished although navigating through lane closures and the inconvenience that comes about with road construction has been “OK.”
Having three lanes on each side would make the road wider and better, said Gomez, who owns America First Air Conditioning & Heating. Gomez and Cruz, though, were concerned about the size of the inside turn lane by the business and if it was wide enough for a truck or a vehicle bigger than a sedan to make a U-turn. J.G. Henderson, who owns The Hair Depot, said he was concerned about losing a deceleration lane leading to his business. He feels that without it, motorists will slow down or stop in the middle of the lane to make a turn, causing accidents. Henderson said he has been told by the Florida Department of Transportation that some room will be kept for drivers trying to turn right, although, he said, it’s not its original size. Ramos said the business would have an extended driveway up to its right of way. Anything after the right of way is the property owner’s call, she added. While the widening of U.S. 27 South is one of the biggest road works in Highlands County right now, several other projects are on the anvil. Here are a few: In Sebring, work will soon start on resurfacing Pine Street, which is west of North Ridgewood Drive, continuing down Park Street. Several grants are also making resurfacing projects possible in the unincorporated areas, said Kyle Green, road and bridge superintendent for Highlands County. In about two to five weeks, a county-maintained shell road, Marguerite Road, on the western edge of the county will start to be paved. Work will be done on 2 miles of roadway and is expected to be finished in less than 120 days once the work starts, Green said. This year, work on widening and reconstructing some portions of South Angelo Lake Road, in Avon Park, is expected to start. Two roads in the Orange Blossom subdivision are expected to be paved, Key Lake Drive and Wolf Creek Road. While the county is paying for half of the cost, the rest is coming from an Orange Blossom Special District Fund the property owners have been paying into. When schools are out, work on widening West Interlake Boulevard in Lake Placid will start. Money collected through impact fees will pay for this project, Green said. Highlands County also plans to contract out a project to mill and resurface Sun ‘n Lake Boulevard from U.S. 27 west to Balboa Avenue. This project is fully funded through grant money, Green said. Avon Park City Manager Julian Deleon said this year the city has “redirected” its paving funds toward street lighting and sidewalks on North Lake and South Lake avenues. They are also building an 8-foot-wide multipath walkway around Donaldson Park by the lakeshore. The construction crew is on site, he added.


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