At the December POA General Membership meeting, officials from the Florida Department of Transportation provided an update on the US 441 construction that has already frustrated motorists for two years and claimed the life of a construction worker. Two other serious accidents have occurred in the construction zone, including two teens who were killed.
Phillip Maggio, the project manager, described the progress on the 4.157-mile, $45.3 million road improvement that began in July 2000. He said they are on track to complete and re-open the entire roadway in early 2024.
Major components of the project include adding a third through lane in each direction and removing the bridge. They have had to reroute traffic to the middle of the roadway while the outer lanes are constructed. The next step is to excavate and remove the slope of the bridge and bring it back to a level roadway. Mr. Maggio explained that the bridge had reached its life cycle and either had to be reconstructed or removed. Removal was the most cost-effective option.
He also said that everything they have done has been with safety in mind for motorists and construction workers. For example, Mr. Maggio said that the Crossroads/Old Vineyard intersection had to be closed because there were so many incidents that the Lady Lake police could not even keep up with them. The goal to reopen that intersection is the end of February, giving it time to recover from the traffic shift.
The upcoming milestones in the project are:
- Traffic shift onto new temporary asphalt in the median between East Hermosa Street and Avenida Central, expected January 2023
- Bridge Demolition expected to begin January 2023
- Griffin View Drive to Lake Ella Road, July 2023 completion
- Griffin View Drive to East Hermosa Street (old downtown area), late 2023 completion
- CR 25 Intersection, late 2023 completion
- Projected Completion – January 2024
Lady Lake Commissioner John Gorley asked whether there would be three through lanes and a turn lane at the CR 466/US 441 intersection. Mr. Maggio said yes, there will, although, given the narrow width of available property, the sidewalk will run all the way to the edge of the outer lane. He said there would also be a bike lane.
Lady Lake Mayor Jim Reitz expressed concerns about the entrance to Water Oak and asked if there would be a trafic light again at the intersection with the ability to turn in both directions. Mr. Maggio said they are currently working with property owners in Water Oak to maintain the “in” and “out” ability to that development while at the same time dealing with the limitations of the “in-between” times of construction.
Mayor Reitz also expressed frustration that Rolling Acres, CR 25, and Lake Ella should all have been addressed before this project. He said he wants Lake County to give the roads to Lady Lake so they have control over them. State road officials have met with Lake County officials and will continue to do that.
Mr. Maggio said the entire 4.157 miles would be resurfaced and would be opened all at once to avoid bottlenecks from transition issues. Residents who have any questions or wish to have updates can go to the Florida Department of Transportation’s website at cflroads.com. Enter project # 238395-5 or call 352-326-7715.