Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization approves funding for the City of Groveland’s Downtown State Road 50 Realignment Project.
A major step was taken Wednesday in advancing Lake County’s top transportation priority, as the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) approved the programming of $7.6 million in funding for the State Road 50 (SR 50) Realignment Project in downtown Groveland. The funds will be utilized by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to purchase a portion of the needed right of way, to move SR 50 north three blocks onto a new alignment.
Mayor Evelyn Wilson, who represents Groveland on the two-county MPO Governing Board, thanked the large collection of elected officials for supporting the project. “Once the new SR 50 is built and Groveland has a walkable downtown, it will transform the City.”
Residents are no strangers to reversing their cars at downtown stoplights to accommodate for the turn of an eighteen-wheeler truck. The completion of this project will eliminate such circumstances. The roadway plans designed by the FDOT include a new four-lane truck route with a grass median. The new alignment would begin on the west side of downtown Groveland where SR 50 currently separates into two pairs of one-way lanes. It would move the roadway north to a position three blocks north of Orange Avenue, where a new intersection with State Road 19 would be constructed. The new roadway would proceed east and then curve south to create a new intersection with State Road 33.
In addition to the new roadway alignment, the project also includes the eventual construction of a portion of the Central Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail. The trail will be constructed through the center of downtown once the truck route is relocated to the north. The trail project to be constructed by the FDOT is known as the “South Lake Trail, Phase 3C” and will connect east to Phase 3B, which is to be built along SR 50 and County Road 565A, connecting to the existing South Lake Trail in Clermont.
Chair of the MPO Mount Dora Mayor Nick Girone said, “It was encouraging to see the MPO’s prioritization process work with the FDOT. The MPO made SR 50 in Groveland the top Lake County priority and the State responded with funding.”
Lake County Chair Leslie Campione, who is chair-elect of the MPO, applauded the project’s advancement stating, “This is such an important project. It addresses safety, freight movement, and economic development. It gives Groveland a real opportunity to redevelop the downtown.”
Action on the $7.6 million by the MPO was the first major step in years towards construction of the project. The FDOT estimates the total cost for the project to be approximately $26 million, leaving an $18.4 million need for additional funding.
Once all right of way acquisitions are completed, the City is exploring a partnership with private-sector investors to construct the new roadway and begin redevelopment of the downtown.
“The progression on this project would not be possible without the leaders of the MPO, Groveland City Council and the incredible Groveland team” said City Manager Mike Hein. “We look forward to providing more charming roadways for our community.”