The Florida Department of Transportation held a public meet-and-greet Aug. 18 to introduce the public to a wide-ranging planned improvement of U.S. Highway 17 in DeLeon Springs, including widening a section of the current two-lane road to four lanes divided by a median, and installing a roundabout at U.S. 17 and Spring Garden Ranch Road.
The project, which encompasses 1.5 miles along U.S. 17 from south of Spring Street to Lake Winona Road, is born of a 2006 study that analyzed the best ways to widen the road. Like many pre-Great Recession road projects, this plan was shelved for years.
In 2015, a shared-use path was added to the project (from Spring Garden Avenue to Lake Winona Road), and the roundabout was added in 2016. The long process of securing right-of-ways and completing designs appears set to culminate, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin the fall of 2023 and take about three years.
Rights of way and designing have cost about $18.6 million, and construction is estimated at $30.5 million.
The project includes the transition past Louise S. McInnis Elementary School, where currently, directly north of the school, U.S. 17 goes from four lanes to two, and speed limits increase from 45 mph to 55.
FDOT records indicate a total of 56 crashes along the 1.5-mile strip from 2018 to July 2022.
Included in the project is a traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 17, Ponce DeLeon Boulevard, and East Baxter Street, adjacent to McInnis Elementary School.
Two more phases are planned, but are not funded: widening U.S. 17 from two lanes to four lanes from Lake Winona Road to State Road 40, and widening the roadway from south of Lake Winona Road to the Duke Energy substation. The latter project, or “Phase 3,” would include a new bridge over Deep Creek, as well as a wildlife crossing.
Eight proposed improvements
- Widen U.S. Highway 17 from a two-lane undivided roadway to a four-lane divided roadway.
- Add traffic signals at the U.S. 17 and Ponce DeLeon Boulevard / East Baxter Street intersection.
- Provide a 5-foot-wide sidewalk from Ponce DeLeon Boulevard to Spring Garden Ranch Road.
- Median closures at Spring Street, West Baxter Street and across from Louise S. McInnis Elementary School
- Construct a roundabout at U.S. 17 and Spring Garden Ranch Road.
- Add a new roadway entrance for the Division of Forestry from Spring Garden Ranch Road.
- Provide a 12-foot-wide shared-use path from Spring Garden Ranch Road to Lake Winona Road.
- Add three new drainage ponds.