Maintained by Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, the 25-mile long Polk Parkway encircles Lakeland to the south of Interstate 4 in Polk County. The loop provides a high speed route to Auburndale and Winter Haven to the east while providing access between I-4 and the south Lakeland suburbs along SR 37 and U.S. 98.
Florida State Road 570 Guides
Conceived first in 1950s highway plans, the Polk Parkway gained traction in 1986 as the Imperial Parkway. A Senate Bill passed by the Florida Legislature in 1990 allowed Florida's Turnpike to construct non-contiguous road projects. Several projects were submitted for consideration under this new program, with Polk Parkway being one of those chosen. Groundbreaking on the toll road followed on January 25, 1996.
Construction focused on the western most portion of Polk Parkway, with a 7.6-mile stretch completed east from I-4 on August 9, 1998. Another ten miles extended SR 570 eastward on August 2, 1999, leading to the final 7.5 miles northward back to I-4 on December 12, 1999.1 The Old Dixie Highway interchange (CR 546) opened by February 4, 2000.2
The northeastern portion of Polk Parkway, from CR 546 (Old Dixie Highway) north to Interstate 4 (Exit 24), was originally built as a two-lane, undivided highway. The addition of the interchange (Exit 23) at Pace Road and University Boulevard included expansion of the toll road to four lanes between mileposts 22 and 24. The $40-million road work ran from early 2010 to November 10, 2011.3
A future proposal involves the $1.2-billion Central Polk Parkway. This toll road is projected to angle southeast from SR 570 by SR 540 to encircle the south side of Winter Haven to U.S. 27 near SR 540. The limited access road would then head northward, staying east of the U.S. 27 corridor by Haines City and Davenport to end at Interstate 4 midway between Exits 55 (U.S. 27) and 58 (CR 532). Project planning commenced in 2008, and funding efforts are underway, with the roadway included in Polk County's 2035 transportation plan.4
|Old Dixie Highway (former CR 546) east at the diamond interchange with SR 570 (Polk Parkway). Photo taken 12/04/03.|
|The eastbound on-ramp to SR 570 leads motorists north from Old Dixie Highway onto the two-lane section of Polk Parkway to Florida Polytechnic University and Interstate 4. Photo taken 12/04/03.|
- Florida's Turnpike - System Description,
http://www.floridasturnpike.com/ about_system.cfm#6accessed July 8, 2014.
- "Last Interchange of Parkway to Open." The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), February 4, 2000.
- "Polk Parkway's Pace Road Interchange To Open Thursday." The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), November 8, 2011.
- "Central Polk Parkway Faces Hurdles Before It Becomes a Reality." The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), February 1, 2014.
12/04/03 by Justin Cozart
Page Updated 05-31-2019.