Orchard Pond Parkway stretches 5.2 miles across the original Orchard Pond Plantation lands between County Road 0361 (Old Bainbridge Road) and the intersection of County Road 155 (Meridian Road) and Bannerman Road north and west of the outer suburbs of Tallahassee. The route is numbered Leon County 0344, which was the designation for Orchard Pond Road, the parallel and unpaved road that the scenic highway replaced. The two-lane highway is the first privately built modern toll road in Florida (the Conners Highway in Palm Beach County, dedicated in 1924 and tolled through 1929, was the privately built toll road in the state). Fees are collected at an all electronic toll (AET) gantry just west of Meridian Road or with toll-by-plate collection.

The parkway was envisioned by Jeff Phipps, co-landowner of the 5,300 acres the toll road traverses, as a new east-west connection for northeast Tallahassee neighborhoods and Gadsden County. He invested $3 million in out-of-pocket expenses to get the project started in 2012. That coupled with a $13.5-million loan from the Florida Department of Transportation Infrastructure Bank paid for construction of the highway, which commenced in 2015.1

Moving forward, Leon County entered leasing agreements for both the parkway infrastructure and for right-of-way, easements and other legal matters. Upon completion of the project, the county acquired the property and leased it back to the Phipps family to operate the toll road. Jeff Phipps also donated easements along both the parkway and former Orchard Pond Road for a bicycle path. Long range plans keeps the Phipps land undeveloped.1

Orchard Pond Parkway took 14 months to build. Completion of the route took place at a ribbon cutting ceremony held on April 18, 2016, with a two week toll free period following. Construction on the bike trail heads for the route also started on April 18.2


County Road 0344 east
Signs posted at the Orchard Pond Parkway beginning indicate the all electronic tolling methods for the 5.2-mile route. Photo taken 05/16/16.
A toll schedule sign follows along Orchard Pond Parkway east. Normally these are placed ahead ahead of AET gantry, but since there is no side access to the road, the placement here is appropriate. Photo taken 05/16/16.
Mileposts are posted regularly along Orchard Pond Parkway, and at the at-grade crossings with the parallel bicycle path. Photo taken 05/16/16.
Another milepost appears as the multi-use path crosses CR 0344 again. Photo taken 05/16/16.
An S-curve along Orchard Pond Parkway accents the topography of the scenic road at milepost one. Photo taken 05/16/16.
The first reassurance marker for County Road 0344 and Orchard Pond Parkway stands opposite a westbound shield. Photo taken 05/16/16.
Advancing east past milepost 1.86 on CR 0344. Photo taken 05/16/16.
Gentle curves were designed to accentuate the natural beauty of the rolling hills along Orchard Pond Parkway. Photo taken 05/16/16.
Speed limits are set at 55 miles per hour for the toll road. Photo taken 05/16/16.
The scenic highway peaks around 220 feet above sea level between Buck and Orchard Ponds by milepost three. Photo taken 05/16/16.
A second reassurance marker for Leon County 344 stands east of milepost three. Photo taken 05/16/16.
Orchard Pond Parkway swings back to the southeast, crossing the former path of Orchard Pond Road near milepost four. Photo taken 05/16/16.
The toll collection point for Orchard Pond Parkway resides just northeast of Mallard Point. Speed limits reduce to 50 miles per hour here. Photo taken 05/16/16.
A sign thanks motorists for using Orchard Pond Parkway east of the AET gantry. This sign provides the lone example of the toll road trailblazer. Photo taken 05/16/16.
A signalized intersection joins the east end of Orchard Pond Parkway with Meridian Road (County Road 155) and Bannerman Road (County Road 0342). CR 0342 extends the road east to Killearn Lakes Plantation and Bradfordville. CR 155 leads south into central Tallahassee. Photo taken 05/16/16.
County Road 0344 west
Leaving Bannerman and Meridian Roads, Orchard Pond Parkway quickly approaches the toll collection point. Photo taken 05/16/16.
One lane travels through the AET gantry per direction. Speed limits increase from 55 to 50 miles per hour beyond the transponder readers. Photo taken 05/16/16.
The first reassurance marker for County Road 0344 precedes milepost three along Orchard Pond Parkway westbound. Photo taken 05/16/16.
A second sign assembly for Orchard Pond Parkway stands ahead of milepost one. Photo taken 05/16/16.
An unmarked intersection concludes Orchard Pond Parkway at County Road 0361 (Old Bainbridge Road). CR 0361 changes to CR 153 upon entering Gadsden County nearby en route to Havana. Photo taken 05/16/16.

Sources:

  1. "Orchard Pond Parkway nears completion." Tallahassee Democrat, March 1, 2016.
  2. "Orchard Pond Parkway opens to grand fanfare." Tallahassee Democrat, April 18, 2016.


Photo Credits:

05/16/16 by AARoads

Connect with:
Leon County 155 - Meridian Road
Gadsden County 153 / Leon County 0361
Leon County 0342

Page Updated 06-15-2016.