The purpose of the study is to address traffic safety conditions on SR 70 from CR 721 S to CR 599/128th Avenue. Other goals of the project are to maintain important east-west connectivity within the regional transportation network and accommodate freight activity within this area of Highlands and Okeechobee Counties, Florida. Alternatives to be evaluated include the widening of the existing two-lane undivided roadway with 10-foot travel lanes to a four-lane divided road with 12-foot travel lanes, the addition of paved shoulders and turn lanes, and possible multi-modal improvements (i.e., shared use path) along the corridor.
No public meetings are scheduled at this time. Please check back for updates.
What is a PD&E Study?
A Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study is a phase of the Florida Department of Transportation's (FDOT) project development process. A PD&E Study assists the FDOT in determining the location, conceptual design and social, economic and environmental effects of proposed roadway and other project improvements. The process follows procedures set forth in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and federal and state laws and regulations. During the PD&E Study process, feasible alternatives are developed for improvement projects. These ‘Build’ alternatives are evaluated based on environmental, engineering and socioeconomic conditions, safety needs and public input. The need for additional right-of-way for improvements or stormwater will also be evaluated during the PD&E Study phase. The ‘No-Build’ alternative is evaluated throughout the study process. This ‘No-Build’ alternative leaves the existing transportation infrastructure as it is, with only routine maintenance as required for existing facilities. If the study results in a ‘Build’ alternative being selected, the project may proceed to the next phase, which is the design phase. The basic activities of a PD&E Study include:
The first major work effort is the collection of all available data pertaining to the study corridor including existing and planned infrastructure, existing and future land uses, drainage patterns, and environmental resources.
Alternatives Development and Analysis
Once data collection is completed, the Department develops and evaluates various alignment alternatives, including a ‘No-Build’ alternative. The ‘No-Build’ alternative assumes no improvements. The environmental impacts, social impacts and costs of these alternatives are quantified and summarized in an evaluation matrix.
Public Kickoff Meeting or Newsletter
A public kickoff meeting is held, or a newsletter is mailed, to introduce the project to the public and provide an opportunity to view and comment on the project’s need and objectives.
Alternatives Public Meeting
Combining the public input with the needs of the corridor, several improvement alternatives are developed and evaluated along with the “No-Build” alternative during the PD&E Study. This meeting presents the environmental and social impacts as well as estimated costs of the viable ‘Build’ alternatives as compared to the ‘No-Build’ alternative. The public is provided with an opportunity to view and comment on the alternatives under consideration.
After all public comments are reviewed and the analysis of the alternatives has been refined, a formal public hearing is held to provide a forum for input from property owners and interested parties on the final recommendations. A final decision is not made until after the public hearing.
After the comments from the public hearing have been received, considered and addressed, the project reports will be finalized and submitted to the Office of Environmental Management for Location and Design Concept Acceptance. Once acceptance is granted, the PD&E Study phase of the project will be complete. The phases that follow the PD&E Study are design of the project, acquisition of right-of-way, if necessary, and construction of the improvements.