County officials in Florida want DOT to shut down rest areas along I-4

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 11/16/2017

A classic case of NIMBY (not in my back yard) near Longwood, Fla., calls for two rest areas popular with truck drivers to be shut down.

The Seminole County Board of Commissioners decided to make some changes to a resolution that requests the Florida Department of Transportation to decommission the rest areas, a move the county commission made a year ago.

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the Seminole County Board of Commissioners followed up on a resolution discussed during previous meetings in October and September. The resolution “formally requests that FDOT immediately close the two rest areas located on Interstate 4 in Seminole County and cancel the contract for the upgrade of the westbound rest area.” More specifically, the two rest areas are located at the I-4 and state Route 434 interchange.

According to the resolution, there are 67 rest areas in Florida, including the two in Seminole County. The two rest areas border residential neighborhoods.

As part of its I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project, FDOT has plans to expand the westbound rest area, including a new loop ramp with an extra lane. The update is projected to cost nearly $1 million. Preliminary designs can be seen in the video below:

Seminole County leaders believe this expansion will allow for more than 60 additional truckers to illegally park in the rights of way. The resolution also claims that the rest area “has had an adverse impact on the residents who live in these neighborhoods for many years.”

County officials say that despite “no parking” signs, truckers park on shoulders, in the right of way and entrance/exit lanes as the rest area often times exceeds capacity. Furthermore, the resolution claims public health and safety issues with air quality.

In July 2016, the Seminole County Board of Commissioners passed Resolution 2016-R-117, which also requested for the rest areas to be shut down.

In response to the 2016 resolution, FDOT told Seminole County officials that a feasibility study had been conducted to determine suitable alternatives in Volusia County. Local government agencies in Volusia County explicitly expressed their disinterest in those options. Consequently, FDOT had no viable options for relocating the rest areas.

“Therefore, regretfully and respectfully, at this time, we cannot accommodate the request to provide a timeline for closure,” Director of Transportation Operations Alan Hyman wrote in a letter to Seminole County Board Commission Chairman John Horan. “However, we can commit that we will continue to communicate to Volusia County agencies that [FDOT] remains willing and able to partner in this economic development opportunity.”

FDOT directed the county commission to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for issues regarding air quality.

Seminole County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Horan could not be immediately reached for comment. However, Fox 35 WOFL in Orlando is reporting that Horan said Seminole County is pushing for more truck stops in Orlando. County officials said they are not against truckers, but the current rest stop location no longer works.



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