Slowly and gradually, the plan for an extreme makeover of the intersection of East New York Avenue — also known as State Road 44 — and Kepler Road is coming together.
After years of wondering when something would be done to ease the congestion and accelerate traffic through the bottleneck on DeLand’s east side, both Volusia County and the Florida Department of Transportation are working to create a roundabout at the crossing of the two arteries.
“Hallelujah! It’s about time,” County Chair Ed Kelley said, as he and the others on the County Council earmarked $3.9 million for the acquisition of land for the project.
Kelley has complained about the difficulty of getting through the intersection as he travels from his home in Ormond Beach to DeLand for County Council meetings and other official business.
The money for the right of way — the land needed for the project — comes primarily from road impact fees charged by the county for new development.
“The only area we will have to buy is that northeast corner,” County Engineer Tadd Kasbeer said.
Kasbeer noted the acquisition of the land — exactly how much has not been determined, as negotiations with the property owner continue — is still a few months away.
“The right of way may be taken care of next year,” he added.
Other property owners have ceded property to the county for the roundabout, notably the developer of the 7-11 convenience store to be built on the southwest corner, and the developer of an emergency animal hospital to be constructed on the southeast corner of the intersection.
The FDOT is the lead agency in the joint project to build the roundabout at Kepler Road and State Road 44. The cost of design and engineering for the intersection improvements is approximately $1.3 million, according to Mariam Ali, of the FDOT.
“The programmed cost for design is $1.3 million,” Ali wrote in an email response to a query from The Beacon.
While the right of way and design are progressing, neither Kasbeer nor Ali could say when the actual construction of the roundabout may take place.
“Construction at this point has not been funded,” Kasbeer said.
Ali confirmed as much.
“Construction is not funded at this time,” an email noted. “The current estimate for the cost of construction is $3.45 million.”
As for the actual construction of the traffic circle and the new lanes, Kasbeer predicted the work would take at least 12-15 months to complete. When the construction occurs, he noted, drivers will be passing through the work zone.
“There is no good place to detour. You’ve got to keep that intersection open,” Kasbeer said.
Meanwhile, drivers passing through the intersection, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours, will continue to contend with snags and snarls.