For immediate release - June 13, 2005
TAVARES — After securing about $176,000 in funding from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the Lake County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved June 7 to construct sidewalks for Astatula Elementary School along County Road 48.
The new sidewalks will extend from
Kirkwood Avenue, west of County Road 561, to the western driveway of The Meadows Manufactured Home Community, just east of the school. The project includes building 5-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of County Road 48 to accommodate pedestrian traffic to and from the busy elementary school that houses more than 750 students, according to the Lake County School Board.
"There are no sidewalks there now, so it's really a great safety enhancement for the area," said Jim Stivender, Director of the Lake County Department of Public Works.
According to Stivender, despite the short timeframe to when school resumes session in August, the contractor will work diligently to have at least one sidewalk completed on one side of County Road 48 before the start of school.
County Commissioner Debbie Stivender said she was pleased to see safety concerns being addressed at the increasingly busy intersection of County roads 48 and 561.
"Along with the traffic light that was recently installed at the intersection, the new sidewalks will add to the safety features of the area," Commissioner Stivender said. "It has become a busy area as the lots that have been sitting in Astatula for all this time are beginning to develop and once they put the elementary school in, it became a lot busier. It used to be an agricultural area, but once the elementary school was put in there, the safety of getting the children there and the parents driving them there became a major issue"
Originally, FDOT agreed to fund about $126,000 for the design and construction of the County Road 48 sidewalk project in November 2003. Due to lack of competitive bids for the sidewalk construction plan, the project stalled.
As FDOT added an additional $50,000 to the project, the Department of Public Works instituted some innovative request-for-bidding practices pairing the County Road 48 project with a more expensive Bridges Road widening and resurfacing project.
The Board of County Commissioners approved a contract Tuesday with Art Walker Construction Inc. of Ocala for the two projects totaling $927,000.
Lake County will contribute about $77,000 for the sidewalk construction bringing the total cost for the project to about $253,000. Lake County's portion of the sidewalk project is being funded by sales tax infrastructure resources. Lake County citizens voted to extend the one-cent sales surtax for a second 15-year term in 2001. The additional one-cent sales tax benefits Lake County Government, School Board and municipalities. Proceeds from the tax are used for a variety of purposes, including improving infrastructure.
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