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FDOT prepares to reconstruct section of Cypress Gardens Boulevard near US 17 in April

Lakeland Ledger

WINTER HAVEN — One of Winter Haven's busiest stretches of roadway will get a long-awaited upgrade this spring.

Florida Department of Transportation is preparing to begin traffic and safety improvements along a stretch of Cypress Gardens Boulevard from U.S. 17 to 1st Street South. It will host a public forum Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at AdventHealth Field House and Conference Center, 210 Cypress Gardens Blvd.

"It's been a long-time coming," M.J. Carnevale, Winter Haven's public works director, told commissioners at last week's agenda review.

Winter Haven officials first approached the FDOT about improving these Cypress Garden Boulevard intersections in 2018 to improve traffic flow and reduce wait times, according to Kevin Morrisey, FDOT's construction engineer.

The project will add two turn lanes at Cypress Gardens Boulevard and U.S. 17, immediately adjacent to the city's fieldhouse.

Morrisey said a second dedicated right-turn lane will be built for motorists turning east on Cypress Gardens Boulevard from northbound U.S. 17.

FDOT plans to construct a third left-turn lane for drivers heading west on Cypress Garden Boulevard looking to turn south on U.S. 17, Morrisey said. It will expand westbound Cypress Gardens to four lanes across — two dedicated left-turn lanes, a left turn or straight ahead and a dedicated right-turn lane.

The temporary orange traffic cones separating opposing traffic on Cypress Garden Boulevard where it meets U.S. 17 will be removed and replaced by a permanent concrete median, according to FDOT's project website.

Two blocks to the east, major improvements will be made to Cypress Gardens Boulevard and 1st Street South. FDOT's plans call for 1st Street to be widened and restriped. And southbound traffic get a second dedicated turn lane onto eastbound Cypress Gardens, Morrisey said. There will be four southbound lanes at the intersection once construction is complete.

As part of construction, FDOT will upgrade the traffic signal equipment, replace the lights with LEDS and improve the crosswalk striping and pedestrian signals at the intersections.

Morrissey said construction was originally scheduled to begin in March, but FDOT's contractor is waiting on a piece of equipment needed for a traffic signal to arrive. He predicts construction will likely begin in early April.

"If it comes in earlier, they are prepared to start earlier," he said.

Construction is estimated to cost $5.6 million and will take approximately 8 to 10 months to complete. Morrissey said he would anticipate completion by very late this year or the beginning of 2024.

Sandra Mancil, the FDOT's community outreach for the project, said the majority of the roadwork will be done at night with overnight road closures. Mancil has been hand delivering flyers on the project to businesses in the immediate area.

Drivers are asked to be vigilant when navigating the area in upcoming weeks as construction gets underway, particularly cautious in areas where road crews are active. Morrisey said he did not have details on whether the project would be constructed in phases, more details on the work schedule would be available closer to April.

"There will be a lot happening in this corridor at different phases of the project," Carnevale said.

FDOT's project website for the Cypress Garden Boulevard project will be upgraded with details on road closures once construction gets underway, Mancil said. It can be found online at www.swflroads.com/project/444050-1