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ROADWAY THREATS

The proposed NW Ocala Beltway maps

Beltway

Citrus-Marion-Sumter Suncoast Parkway Connection to U.S. 19/98 Including West Ocala Beltway

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Florida Main Road

Sunshine State Parkway (SR 589)
Extension to I-10

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Proposed Ocala Beltway Route

Original FDOT Coastal Connector Routes

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UPDATE: SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue Road-Widening

UPDATE: SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue Road-Widening

Four-Lane Widening of SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue Approved

At the Marion County Commission meeting on Tuesday, December 7th, the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) was approved for the 10.5-mile segment of SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue. This road will be widened to four lanes, starting at SW 90th Avenue to 0.5 miles north of US Hwy 27. Funding for design of phased portions of the corridor is available in the current budget. The road project is divided into three sections for construction, but only two of the three sections are funded.

Paul Wildman, P.E., from Guerra Development Group presented the PER, a 900-page document with detailed maps and conceptual designs of the proposed road. The PER report is the first phase. The next three phases are: design, right of way acquisition, and construction.

Alignments

Two different roadway alignments, A and B, were presented for approval. The County Commission voted to approve Alignment A.

Alignment A consists of reducing the amount of impacts and meanders through the corridor,” said Wildman. “The other option is Alternate B, which takes a centerline approach and the need for right of way and improvements is along both sides of the corridor,” he said.

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Alignment A also received more support from the public meeting comments. It avoids impacts to the cemetery and costs less to construct.

 

Designs

The County Commission also selected Major Typical Section 2 as the preferred design of the road. This design is 120 feet wide and includes a bike lane adjacent to the travel way, a sidewalk on the east side, and a multi-use path on the west side of the road.

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Special Case Scenarios

In addition to the Major Typical Sections, there were several “special case scenarios” identified in the report as Minor Typical Sections. The section of the road near On Top of the World (OTOW) is one example because a multiuse path already exits. An agreement will be negotiated with OTOW to utilize this existing path instead of building a new path.

County Commissioner Stone also requested berms be built to address the traffic noise and to help block the view of the traffic. This will also be considered during the design phase of the road.

The improvements of the intersection at NW 41st Place Road are also in the concept design phase. One option is to include an extra long turn lane and improve the intersection to allow for U-Turns. Other design concepts include a frontage road, or to connect NW 41st Place Road to SW 52nd Street. The intersection improvements will allow horse trailers and large recreational vehicles to safely change direction on the road. The final design will be brought back to the County Commission for approval.

Intersection Improvements

The traffic report shows the need to improve seven major intersections for safety. The following intersections are recommended to be improved through the 2045 design year:

  • SW 80th Avenue at SW 90th Street- Additional turn lanes and signal updates.
  • SW 80th Avenue at SW 80th Street- Additional turn lanes and signal updates.
  • SW 80th Avenue at SW 63rd Street Road- New Signal and additional turn Lanes.
  • SW 80th Avenue at SW 38th Street- Additional turn lanes and signal updates.
  • SR 40 at NW/SW 80th Avenue- Additional turn lanes and signal updates.
  • NW 80th Avenue at NW 21st Street – New Signal and additional turn Lanes.
  • US 27 at CR 225A- Additional turn lanes and signal updates.

Other Issues

The report also addressed several issues such as number of residences affected, feasibility of design/permitting, costs, environmental impacts such as wetlands and protected species, cultural/archaeological factors including a local cemetery, and infrastructure flexibility to meet future needs.

The report includes feedback from major stakeholders, government agencies, the County Commission, the County Engineer, and the public. Two meetings were held at Westport High School to take public comment on the road in July 2021. Guerra provided responses to all of the public comments submitted.

Three Sections

  • Segment 1: From SW 90th to just north of Westport High School is funded and construction is expected to start within the next three years.
  • Segment 2: Just north of Westport High School to south of SR 40, but this section is not funded and funding is not anticipated for at least 5 years.
  • Segment 3: Just north of SR 40 to US 27 is funded and construction will start within the next three to five years.

In addition, two new intersection improvements at SR 40 and US Hwy 27 are funded. The intersection at SR 40 will likely to go to construction next year. The intersection at US Hwy 27 is under construction now. (See update below about the US Hwy 27 intersection).

The full PER can be viewed at the following link: https://bcc.marioncountyfl.org/Full_Preliminary%20Engineering%20Report_SW%20NW%2080th%2070th%20Ave_Nov%202021.pdf

The SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue road-widening project was approved in 2018 as part of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is a five-year schedule of transportation projects proposed by government agencies and other stakeholders in Marion County. https://ocalamariontpo.org/plans-and-programs/transportation-improvement-program-tip/

Updates on US Hwy 27 And The New Road/Interchange at NW 49th Street

Aerial view of the parcel# 13561-004-00. This is where the four-laning will end and the new road at NW 49th Street will meet 225A. Expand Photo

1. When will the extension North of US Hwy 27 be completed?

NW 70th Ave/CR 225A and US Hwy 27: The improvements to the intersection at NW 70th Ave/CR 225A and US Hwy 27 is the first road improvement project for SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue and it is currently under construction by Marion County. The estimated horizon for completion is mid March 2022. However, the completion date may extend to April 2022.

The road will be converted to a four-lane divided roadway that extends approximately 600 feet on both sides of US 27. The road improvements include turn-lanes, bike lanes, curb and gutter, concrete sidewalks, shared use path, medians, storm drainage, drainage retention areas, traffic markings and signals, ditches, berms, driveways, water mains, and sanitary sewer mains.

As part of Section 3 in the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) for the SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue Road Widening project, CR 225A will be four-laned from the US Hwy 27 intersection improvements to the new road, NW 49th Street, that will connect CR 225A to the new I-75 Intersection. Section 3 is currently under design. This Section is funded and construction will start within the next three to five years.

The four-laning of CR 225A will end at about NW 44th Lane. The parcel number where the four-laning will end is 13561-004-00.

2. When will the new interchange at I-75 will be built?

New I-75 Interchange at NW 49th Street/NW 35th Street: The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is building the new interchange at NW 49th Street/NW 35th Street. According to the FDOT website, the Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study was completed in March 2021 and the project is currently in the design phase. The FDOT Design Project Manager is Megan Owens and the Design Firm is Metric Engineering.

Construction is anticipated to begin in December of 2024. The cost of the project is approximately $41 million for construction. The estimated time frame for completion is 1 to 3 years. Link to the PD&E study and a comment form to send comments to FDOT: https://www.cflroads.com/project/435209-1

This interchange will extend from the NW 35th Street extension, which Marion County is constructing, to the Amazon warehouse. The new street will go through the mining operation. The interchange will go over I-75, via a bridge, from NW 35th Street on the east side and it will tie into the existing NW 49th Street on the west side of I-75. This is a Diverging Diamond Interchange configuration. There will be a brand new intersection built at NW 49th Street and NW 44th Ave. Traffic will have access to NW 44th Ave, which runs parallel to I-75 and connects to US Hwy 27 and Hwy 326

3. When will the road that connects CR 225A to I-75 be built?

NW 49th Street: Connects CR 225A to new I-75 Interchange at NW 49th Street: The connection of CR 225A to the interchange at NW 49th Street will be built in two sections: 3A and 3B. Both sections are funded for design. Section 3A is funded for construction in fiscal year 2020/2021. Section 3B is funded for construction in 2022/2023.

The general rule of thumb for road construction projects is that the design phase is one year. The next phase is to acquire the right of way, which takes up to one year or more and the final phase is construction, which is one year or less. Sometimes the right of way acquisition and construction overlap.

Section 3A: The design for Section 3A has been started and the construction is funded for fiscal year 2020/2021, which began on October 1, 2021. The cost for the 1.1-mile section of the two-lane road is $2,000,000.

3A runs from a location point which is located 1.1 miles west of NW 44th Avenue to NW 44th Avenue. Deputy County Engineer Don Atwell is the Project Manager for Section 3A. See item number C5 on the 2020/2021 – 2024/2025 Marion County Transportation Improvement Program
https://www.marionfl.org/home/showpublisheddocument/20890/637245315041870000

Section 3B: The design for Section 3B has not been started. The right of way acquisition is funded for fiscal year 2021/2022 at a cost of $780,000 and construction is funded for fiscal year 2022/2023 at a cost of $4,450,000.

3B starts at CR 225A and ends at the beginning of Section 3A at the location point 1.1 miles west of NW 44th Avenue. See item number C10 on the 2021/2022 – 2025/2026 Marion County Transportation Improvement Program. https://www.marionfl.org/home/showpublisheddocument/22134/637605811040870000

Always Watching

We work hard to keep you informed, and to represent our members' interests in preserving our horse farms, farmland and the unique character and culture of Marion County's 193,000 acre Farmland Preservation Area.

Join the herd. Every voice matters.

Horse Farms Forever Neutral on Proposed Alternative Routes for the Northern Turnpike Extension

Horse Farms Forever Neutral on Proposed Alternative Routes for the Northern Turnpike Extension

Florida’s population is growing and with that growth the state’s transportation systems will also need to grow. With the required growth of the state’s transportation systems, it makes sense for the Florida Department of Transportation to conduct feasibility studies of potential routes for these future transportation needs, including the Northern Turnpike Extension.

The Horse Farms Forever position on transportation is clear and consistent.

  • Any new road projects within the Farmland Preservation Area should use existing rights-of-way. This position aligns with Marion County’s Comprehensive Plan Policy 3.3.1 Elements of Rural Character which states: “Transportation: New transportation corridors intended to be used specifically for the construction of expressways or limited access roadways shall avoid the Farmland Preservation Area…”
  • HFF did not oppose the Coastal Connector Tollway. Instead, what we opposed were the routes through the heart of the most prime and precious Marion County horse farms and the Farmland Preservation Area. Our goal was to help the leadership of the FDOT understand the impact of their proposed routes. Once provided with the facts, they had the good judgement to abandon those proposed routes.

The proposed alternatives routes for the Northern Turnpike Extension avoid the Farmland Preservation Area and other major Marion County horse farms. Thus, at this time Horse Farms Forever takes a neutral position on the proposed alternatives to the northern extension of the turnpike.

In our watchdog role, HFF will continue to closely monitor the situation to assure there are no detrimental impacts to the Farmland Preservation Area. In addition, we will be attending the two upcoming public meetings.

Date: December 7, 2021
Time: 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Place: College of Central Florida
Levy Campus, 15390 US-19
Chiefland, FL 32626

Date: December 9, 2021
Time: 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Place: College of Central Florida Citrus Campus
3800 S Lecanto Highway
Lecanto, FL 34461

Road Widening Public Hearing Stresses the Need for Public Input

Road Widening Public Hearing Stresses the Need for Public Input

Final Comments Due August 2nd

Over 200 people attended the workshops on July 14 and 15 about the SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue road-widening project. Marion County’s Deputy County Engineer, Donald Atwell and representatives from Guerra Development Corporation presented several options for the proposed improvements, which include expanding the current roadway to a four-lane road with bike lanes, pedestrian walks, and a grass median.

Wednesday’s meeting focused on the road improvements that are south of SR 40. Thursday’s meeting focused on the road improvements north of SR 40.

Deputy County Engineer Atwell emphasized the importance of submitting formally written comments so that suggested changes could be considered for the road’s design. “This is the time to make a comment, whether you like the project or not,” said Deputy County Engineer Atwell. The deadline for comments is August 2nd and they must be submitted on the Comment Form and sent via email, or mail to the address on the Comment Form.

Paul Wildman, P.E., for Guerra Development Corporation, made the presentation about the road improvements. The road improvements start at SW 90th Street and end about .5 mile north of US 27 on CR 225A. The total length is about 10.5 miles. It will be expanded to a 120’ divided four-lane roadway with options for pedestrian use paths. Alternative A is the recommended design. The road improvements are funded by the Penny Sales Tax funds that are administered by Marion County.

With the opening of the World Equestrian Center, and several existing and planned large residential developments, the road improvements are needed. Traffic is projected to increase to 37,500 trips per day. The additional capacity will help maintain the level of service and increase the safety of the road for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

A new road is also planned to connect CR 225A to the new interchange being built by the Florida Department of Transportation at NW 49th Street.

Three Sections

The road project will be divided into three sections, but only two of the three sections are funded.

  • Segment 1: From SW 90th to just north of Westport High School is funded and construction is expected to start within the next three years.
  • Segment 2: Just north of Westport High School to south of SR 40, but this section is not funded and funding is not anticipated for at least 5 years.
  • Segment 3: Just north of SR 40 to US 27 is funded and construction will start within the next three to five years.
  • In addition, two new intersection improvements at SR 40 and US 27 are funded. The intersection at SR 40 is likely to go to construction this year. The intersection at US 27 will go to construction any day now.

Questions From the Floor

After the presentation several residents asked questions, which are summarized below:

QUESTION: Why not use 60th, which is already a four lane road?

ANSWER: Both roads are needed. The traffic study looked out 20 years at a 2045 horizon and determined that the road will have to be four-laned. All of the new the development is occurring on NW/SW 80th Avenue and if the road is left as a two-lane road, the level of service will go down significantly. There is a lot of active development along the corridor – Stone Creek, Bay Laurel, Calesa, World Equestrian Center, and On Top of the World.

The SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue is a corridor and this is part of the long-range transportation plan. Marion County will need to have more than 60th Avenue as a four-lane road. There will be additional projects around this to accommodate the traffic. It’s better to build the project before it’s too late. It’s far better to do it now.

QUESTION: What will be done to address the noise and safety?

ANSWER: Noise barriers are not standard for this type of road, but Guerra will submit this question to the Board of County Commissioners for consideration. This would be a change in policy. There are valid concerns about the intersection at SW 38th Street. Marion County Commissioner Michelle Stone has requested that this intersection be evaluated to address the safety and access issues.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

  • Can you combine Alternative A and Alternative B and make the road oscillate more instead of just one Alternative?
  • Could you remove one of the 14’ multi use paths and only have one 14’ multi use path on one side of the road? This will decrease the total width of the road.

Dig Deeper:

This is the time to make a comment, whether you like the project or not.

Donald Atwell

Deputy County Engineer, Marion County

Fill Out The Comment Form

Please submit comments or questions by August 2. It’s easy! Just fill out the Comment Form online, save it as a PDF, and email it to: GDCPER@guerracorp.net

You can either email it to the address above or mail the printed form it to: Paul Wildman, P.E., Guerra Development Corp. 2817 NE 3rd Street, Ocala, FL 34470.

After these two meetings, another workshop will be scheduled with the Marion County Board of County Commissioners.

Questions About Conservation?

Contact Busy Shires, our Director of Conservation Strategies, by email or by phone 352-234-7175.

Always Watching

We work hard to keep you informed, and to represent our members' interests in preserving our horse farms, farmland and the unique character and culture of Marion County's 193,000 acre Farmland Preservation Area.

Join the herd. Every voice matters.

Public Input Requested on the SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue Road Widening

Public Input Requested on the SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue Road Widening

The public is invited to provide input on the SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue road widening project at two meetings hosted by Guerra Development Corporation.

The meetings will be held on Wednesday, July 14 and Thursday, July 15 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM at Westport High School Auditorium. Horse Farms Forever staff will attend and report on the outcomes.

Engineers from Guerra Development Corporation will present information about the road widening project in two separate meetings. The first meeting on July 14 will focus on the road improvements located south of SR 40. The second meeting on July 15 will be focused on the section of the road north of SR 40.

The proposed improvements include expanding the current roadway to a four-lane road with bike lanes, pedestrian walks, and a grass median.

The goal of the meetings is to obtain public feedback about the improvements. After the presentation, there will be a breakout question and answer session. Written comments are preferred, and comment forms will be provided at the meeting.

Fill Out The Comment Form

If you are unable to attend the meeting, you can fill out the Comment Form online and email it to: GDCPER@guerracorp.net

Fill out the Comment Form online, save it as a PDF, and then email it to the address above or mail the printed form it to: Paul Wildman, P.E., Guerra Development Corp. 2817 NE 3rd Street, Ocala, FL 34470)

After these two meetings, another workshop will be scheduled with the Marion County Board of County Commissioners.

Always Watching

We work hard to keep you informed, and to represent our members' interests in preserving our horse farms, farmland and the unique character and culture of Marion County's 193,000 acre Farmland Preservation Area.

Join the herd. Every voice matters.

Update on the SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue Road Widening

Update on the SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue Road Widening

At the Marion County Commission Workshop on June 7th, Juan Guerra, Owner of Guerra Development Corporation, presented the Preliminary Engineering Report (P.E.R.) for SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue.

With the opening of the World Equestrian Center, and the new Calesa Township being built at On Top of the World Communities Ocala, the traffic on SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue will more than double. That’s an increase from about 14,600 to 37,500 vehicles per day. To accommodate this traffic and make it safer for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists, the road will be widened into a divided four-lane roadway with a median, sidewalks, bike paths and a separate multiuse asphalt path.

A Look at the Area

The road improvement project is 10.5 miles long and extends from just north of SR 200 to about one quarter to one half-mile north of US 27. Due to the existing businesses, houses, and Westport High School, the width and design of the road will be modified to accommodate the existing uses. Most of the road widening will occur on the west side of the existing road. At the widest point, the road and multiuse paths will be 120’. The multiuse paths vary from 10’ to 14’ wide and they also include a designated bike path. Other potential sections of the road will be 100’ with a 5’ sidewalk and 4’ bike lane next to the 12’ travel lane for cars. The designs presented were preliminary designs and the road will be approved after further input is received.

Three Phases – Ten Years

There are three main segments to the road construction project. It is estimated that it will take 10 years to complete. The intersections at US 27 and SR 40 will be the first segments to be completed. There is a preconstruction meeting for the intersection at US 27 that will be held sometime this month.

The Workshop was an opportunity to receive feedback from the Commissioners about the road improvements. Several Commissioners expressed concerns about saving the tree canopy and the legacy trees. Mr. Guerra said that every effort would be made to save as many trees as possible and to protect the character of the road. The multiuse path will be “meandered” to make the path more appealing and to help save the trees.

Because it was a Commission Workshop, there were no public comments. However, a community meeting will be scheduled soon for the public to provide input and comments. Keep an eye on the Calendar for updates.

Send comments to: roads@marionfl.org
For more information, contact Pat Russett at 352-671-8686.

Questions About Conservation?

Contact Busy Shires, our Director of Conservation Strategies, by email or by phone 352-234-7175.

Engineering Report

The full report is available on Marion County’s website. To go there, click on the image or the button below:

Always Watching

We work hard to keep you informed, and to represent our members' interests in preserving our horse farms, farmland and the unique character and culture of Marion County's 193,000 acre Farmland Preservation Area.

Join the herd. Every voice matters.