The Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study for Round Lake Road covers the study area from Meadowland Drive in Orange County to north of State Road 44 in Lake County. The study area (as shown on the map below) is located partially within the City of Mount Dora and in unincorporated Lake County. The project length is approximately 4.75 miles.
Lake County has identified the need to improve this segment of Round Lake Road as described in the 2030 Lake County Comprehensive Plan. Also, the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has included this project in the adopted 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan and subsequent amendments.
The following goals and objectives were defined for the Round Lake Road PD&E Study.
- Operations: The proposed project will improve capacity on Round Lake Road by reducing operational conflicts.
- Safety: The proposed project provides improvements for the safe interaction of vehicular traffic and bicycle and pedestrian movements.
- Multimodal System: Bicycle and pedestrian mobility and livability within the corridor will be improved. The final recommendation also will account for existing and future transit needs along Round Lake Road.
- Right of Way: The proposed project seeks to reach the stated goals while minimizing the acquisition of needed right-of-way.
- Consistency: The proposed project is included in the 2030 Lake County Comprehensive Plan and the Lake-Sumter MPO's 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan.
PD&E Study Steps
The PD&E Study process is a blending of engineering analysis, environmental evaluations, and public and agency input. This process is used to develop transportation improvements that are technically sound, environmentally sensitive, economically feasible, and socially acceptable.
The PD&E study process was developed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), in response to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, to ensure that transportation projects are developed with consideration of current engineering standards, project costs, and minimization of social and environmental impacts while involving the public throughout the study.
Here is a brief description of each key activity that will be completed for the Round Lake Road PD&E Study.
Before alternative alignments and improvements are developed, the study team needs to understand the existing conditions of the area as well as anticipated future changes. Information is collected from existing sources, as well as through field reviews and interviews with local leaders. Information that will be collected includes: existing setting (changes in elevations), existing roadway characteristics, traffic counts, existing and future land uses, drainage patterns, locations of wetlands and habitat for threatened and endangered species, historic features, and potential contamination sites. This background information provides guidance in placing the transportation improvements in the best location.
Project Overview Public Meeting
The Project Overview Public Meeting was held on March 8, 2018 as initial data collection activities are being completed. The purpose of this meeting was to introduce the PD&E Study to the public and to collect stakeholder input before alternatives are developed.
Alternatives Development and Analysis
Once the data collection is complete and the needs of the corridor have been determined, proposed alternatives will be developed. These alternatives will include the alignment of the proposed improved roadway, as well as what it will look like (number of lanes, sidewalks, etc.). The proposed alternatives, including the "No Build" Alternative, will be considered and evaluated during the PD&E Study. The environmental impacts, social impacts, and costs of these alternatives will be quantified and summarized in a comparative matrix.
Alternative Concepts Public Workshop
The Alternative Concepts Public Meeting will present the alternative concepts and related evaluations. Input from this workshop, along with technical evaluations, will lead to the selection of a set of recommendations for the Round Lake Road study area.
Draft Recommended Improvement Public Meeting
The Draft Recommended Improvement Public Meeting will be held after the alternatives analysis activities and identification of a draft recommended improvement concept have been completed. The purpose of this meeting will be to present these results and to obtain comments on the draft recommended improvement concept.
A public hearing before the Lake County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) will be held at the end of the PD&E Study, in accordance with County procedures and with Part 1, Chapter 11 of the FDOT PD&E Manual. This hearing will focus on the recommended alternative and will also provide a forum for input from property owners and interested stakeholders concerning the final recommendations of the proposed project. A final decision on the recommendations will not be made until after the public hearing.
Selection of a Preferred Alternative
After reviewing the technical evaluations and the public input, a "Build" Alternative option will be developed. Study documents will be prepared focusing on the preferred "Build" Alternative as well as the "No Build" Alternative. (The "No Build" Alternative means that Round Lake Road remains as it exists today with routine maintenance as the only improvement.) This information will be presented at the Public Hearing. Only after the public hearing will a final alternative be selected. Lake County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) will make the final decision regarding transportation improvements in the Round Lake Road study area.
The technical work completed during the PD&E Study will be documented in a series of reports. The draft Round Lake Road Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) and supporting draft reports will be available for review before the public hearing, at the public hearing, and after the public hearing until the public comment period ends.
After the comments from the public hearing have been addressed, the project reports will be finalized and submitted to Lake County for final approval. The project will then be ready to move into future phases, which involve: design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction.
Steps in the Life of a Roadway Project
The graphic below highlights the five key steps that a project must go through before it becomes an open road.
- The need for the project is first identified and is included in local transportation plans.
- The next step is to complete the PD&E Study.
- Design is the third step, when construction documents are prepared.
- Next, comes the acquisition of additional right-of-way.
- Construction can begin only after these steps are completed.
It may take up to 10 years for a project to go from an idea to being in place.