Local News

Wet weather extends road projects

SEBRING - The unusually rainy summer has pushed back the completion of at least a couple of road projects in the county, including the U.S. 27 widening effort north of Avon Park. Back in December it was believed that with no weather delays the work would be completed in July on the 2.9-mile stretch of U.S. 27 from Lake Isis Avenue to the Highlands/Polk County line An update in May from Valerin Group Public Information Officer Alice Ramos pushed the completion date back to August. Now, due to weather delays and about 24 inches of rain above average, it looks like the project will wrap up in mid-November, Ramos said Monday.
Upcoming work includes laying the final layer of asphalt, the final stripping, placing sod and installing signs. "They still need to regrade. Due to all of the rain washouts that have occurred," Ramos said. The $12.3 million project includes the closure of nine of the median openings and creation of two new openings. Ramos said the weather delays will not increase the cost of the project. Before the project started it was pushed back about six months after it was found that the sand skink, a protected species, was living within the construction zone. Meanwhile, motorists traveling on Sun 'N Lake Boulevard should remain alert for road crews. Because of rain days, the project is about 10 days behind schedule, said County Engineer Ramon Gavarrete. The milling and resurfacing project along Sun 'N Lake Boulevard from U.S. 27 to Balboa Boulevard was scheduled to be completed this week. The project includes minor drainage improvements at the circle at Ponce de Leon and Sun 'n Lake boulevards. "We've always had drainage issues there so we are hoping this project will take care of those," Gaverrete said. The traffic will be reconfigured at both the Ponce de Leon and Columbus Boulevard circles so that all the approaches will yield to the circle, he said, whereas before motorists on the circle were required to yield to traffic on Sun 'N Lake Boulevard. The County Road and Bridge Department also is working on West Interlake Boulevard to try to alleviate traffic congestion for the schools, Gaverrete said. The project will "hopefully" be completed in the next two months. The work includes adding a third land (turning lane) on West Interlake Boulevard from DeVane Circle to Tangerine Boulevard and adding right-turn lanes and left-turn lanes to and from Green Dragon Drive and Tangerine Boulevard. Upcoming projects include work on Bell and Pleasant streets in Avon Park. Right-turn lanes for motorist going north on U.S. 27 will be added to both streets. The county will be receiving bids for the project on Sept. 16, Gaverrete said. It usually takes 30 to 45 days to complete the contract and for the contractor to start construction so work could start in October or early November unless the contractor wants to start after the holidays. Also, the cost of building Phase III of the Sebring Parkway should be known on Oct. 5, which is the deadline for the submission of bids for the designing and building of the 4 3/4 miles of road to link the Parkway with Memorial Drive at College Drive. Instead of a traffic signal at College Drive and Memorial Drive, Gaverrete said South Florida State College and the county have agreed on a traffic circle layout for the intersection. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826