Competing plans to build a 7-mile toll road (408 Extension) through Bithlo are causing frustration among residents and dismay with some transportation experts.
The road, which would connect the region’s heavily used State Road 408 with State Road 520 in east Orange County, is from a long-standing plan to provide additional expressway between the Orlando area and Interstate 95 along the east coast.
Harry Barley, director of MetroPlan Orlando, a regional transportation planner, said he has been urging local officials to help resolve discord from the separate efforts of the Florida Department of Transportation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority.
“It’s awkward in terms of the public’s understanding of things,” Barley said. “We don’t need two projects.”
The prospect of two agencies spending millions of public dollars each to develop a road concept is unusual. The standard practice is for a single agency to consider multiple alternatives. As it stands, there is no clear route for determining which agency will prevail.
As the region’s chief toll-road operator, the expressway authority is further along than the state in formulating a plan for the Bithlo highway.
The authority will hold a public meeting Thursday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at East River High School, 650 East River Falcons Way in Bithlo.
Spokesman Brian Hutchings said the meeting will further clarify his agency’s development of a concept for a highway, one that involved previous presentations to the public, evolution of a route and determination of a potential price tag.
The authority’s staff is recommending a route (408 Extension) that would start at S.R. 408, dip south and run parallel with S.R. 50, and then dive south of East River High School along the south side of Bithlo.
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