Alafaya Trail to get access to the BeachLine
6:43 PM EDT, May 11, 2009
Alafaya Trail, the once-rural road in east Orange County now overrun with harried commuters, should get some traffic relief because it will finally be linked to the BeachLine Expressway, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty promised Monday.
Referring to Alafaya as "the county's biggest cul-de-sac," Crotty said construction of a 2-mile-long link to an existing interchange on the toll road, also known as State Road 528, could start within 90 days and be completed within 18 months.
"This is a very big announcement," he said.
Alafaya, which runs north-south, hosts a plethora of large housing developments, including Waterford Lakes and Avalon Park. Those developments' main connection to downtown Orlando and other employment centers is S.R. 408, another tollway, or crowded local roads such as Colonial Drive and Lake Underhill Road.
There is nothing to the south on Alafaya because the road stops within eyesight of the BeachLine, near Orlando Utilities Commission's power plants.
"It's frustrating. ... They can see the BeachLine, yet not get east-west access to it," Crotty said.
Suburban Land Reserve Inc., a sister company of Deseret Ranch, which is owned by the Mormon Church, will donate the land and pay for construction of what is being called the E-road. It will tie Alafaya in with the BeachLine at an interchange now serving a state prison processing center and International Corporate Park.
The link is expected to cost as much as $10 million. County officials will offset some of that by waiving impact fees; the amount of the waiver is still to be determined, but it could possibly be worth millions.
"We are also proud to be a part of the solution that will provide residents in the East Orange County communities with greater access and mobility options throughout Central Florida," Suburban Land said in a prepared statement.
Suburban Land stands to profit from the arrangement because the E-road would improve access to International Corporate Park, a long-dormant commercial-and-industrial development that the company purchased in September 2007. The Mormon Church also controls the Deseret Ranch, a 300,000-acre working cattle spread just to the east of ICP.
That ranch, which spans parts of Orange, Osceola and Brevard counties, will likely be developed in coming years as Orlando's urban core creeps farther outward. The Orange County Commission recently shelved a request by Suburban Land to extend the government boundary for urban services to include nearly 4,600 acres of its ranch. If it had been approved, it would have opened the door for Deseret to potentially build as many as 10,000 houses, apartments and condominiums.
The prison interchange, which was poorly designed and is lightly used, would never be able to handle the traffic generated by a development of such magnitude. That's why Suburban Land is close to completing another deal with the county and the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority to build a full, $31 million interchange just to the west of the existing one. Construction would take two years.
A tentative agreement calls for Suburban Land to donate property and design work worth $12.5 million, while the county would spend $6 million and the expressway authority would chip in $12 million.
That interchange would also be a boon to a plan long championed by Crotty called Innovation Way -- a travel corridor that would link the University of Central Florida to the north with ICP to the south and Orlando International Airport and Lake Nona's "medical city" to the southwest.