Deltona leaders are planning to buy land for their share of a project to extend Orange City’s Rhode Island Avenue over Interstate 4 to connect Orange City and Deltona.
Acting Deltona City Manager John Peters, who is negotiating with property owners with the City Commission’s authorization, said the owners of Portland Industrial Park are willing to chip in.
“They’re giving us an 80- foot right of way,” he noted.
The road would serve future industrial or warehouse tenants and retail businesses in Deltona Village, a conceptual plan for a mixed-use development north of Epic Theatres.
Rhode Island Avenue is a Volusia County thoroughfare whose eastern end is now at Veterans Memorial Parkway.
For more than 15 years — years before Amazon built its huge complex — transportation planners have envisioned extending Rhode Island Avenue eastward to intersect with North Normandy Boulevard in Deltona. The project involves building a bridge or overpass spanning I-4.
Besides the contribution of property from Portland Industrial Park, Peters suggested Deltona negotiate with other nearby landowners for a corridor 80 feet wide and 1,700 feet long that would intersect with Howland Boulevard.
The land in question is “situated just to the west of Deltona High School located south of Graves Avenue and Howland Boulevard corridors,” notes a city-issued summary of Peters’ request.
One of the property owners, Peters said, is Frank DeMarsh, owner of Epic Theatres and more than 100 acres eyed for Deltona Village.
After crossing over I-4, the new road would extend east from North Normandy Boulevard, curve to the north, and then trend north, grading into Master Sgt. Tara Jacobs Brown Avenue and eventually intersecting with Howland Boulevard.
Deltona’s budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year earmarks $10 million for the project.
Pursuant to Deltona’s land-acquisition policy, the City Commission authorized Peters to seek two appraisals of the property necessary. Peters estimated the cost of the right of way will be less than $1 million.
When the main portion of the Rhode Island Avenue extension from Orange City eastward across I-4 may be built is not known. A few years ago, there was buzz that the Florida Department of Transportation may build the overpass and the road segments between Veterans Memorial Parkway and Normandy Boulevard as part of the I-4 Beyond the Ultimate program.
Beyond the Ultimate is a plan to expand portions of I-4 to the northeast and southwest of Orlando. It’s a step beyond the I-4 Ultimate, which saw a major makeover and expansion of the interstate within Orlando and its neighboring cities.
Beyond the Ultimate is designed to upgrade I-4 southwestward between Kirkman Road and County Road 532 in Polk County and northeastward between State Road 434 in Longwood and State Road 472 in Volusia County.
Beyond the Ultimate has not been funded by the Congress. The latest estimated cost of acquiring the right of way, designing and engineering is $572 million. That number may change amid the inflationary pressures in construction.
The BTU envisions a 10- lane I-4 in the affected zone, with six general-use lanes — three in each direction of travel — and four “express,” or toll, lanes, with two in one direction and two in the opposite direction. It would include a 10.1-mile segment between the interchange of I-4 with U.S. Highway 17- 92 in Seminole County and a half-mile east of S.R. 472.
If or when Rhode Island Avenue is extended eastward from Orange City to Deltona, it will be the third connecting road between the two cities. Local officials say it would relieve congestion on Saxon Boulevard and Graves Avenue.