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Officials host open house on expansion of S.R. 408 into Brevard County

More than 400 drivers attended meeting

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Thousands of drivers could be impacted by the expansion of State Road 408 in East Orange County, as officials from the Florida Expressway Authority held an open house on Thursday evening to discuss the potential expansion plans.

The road currently ends at State Road 50---which was recently expanded, but the new plan could extend the road east toward Brevard County. That would cut through some pasturelands or undisturbed river areas.

But one man told News 6 that it is a temporary solution.

"It's only good for about 10 years. After 10 years, it's going to be back to the way it was before…Traffic will be bumper to bumper, and we need more lanes out here in that corridor," RJ Mueller, from FixMyRoadway.com, said.
Mueller started a blog five years ago that tracks all of the road projects in the area, including this latest proposal, the 408 expansion.

The extension could go several ways, and each route is either next to or near State Road 50. The Central Florida expressway authority is proposing extending the toll road seven miles east from State Road 50 to State Road 520.

So what is the problem with this? State Road 50 cannot be used for the expansion because it's a state highway.

So they've expanded the area to look for other possible solutions, including four alternative alignments, which would cut through already established residential and business areas in Lake Pickett, Bithlo and Avalon Park.

It's something that Mueller said is less than ideal.

However, the state has other plans in mind for State Road 50.

State officials want to widen the road, and told the Florida Department of Transportation to try and avoid interfering with their project.

Bill Lutz has lived in East Orange County since the 1970s.

He said he'll listen to the proposal, but is concerned the expansion will destroy their rural way of living.

"Some of these routes are going to take people's homes and businesses. We have a concern about it being used as a way to increase development out here in the rural area," Lutz said.

The Florida Turnpike Enterprise is spending $4 million to conduct its own study on expanding the 408, calling it the "Colonial Expressway." This proposed expansion would use state road 50, but would not require building a new toll road from scratch.

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But Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs told News 6 late last year that no matter what, something has to be done to help alleviate the traffic.

"I think it's good news we have an expressway authority who stands ready in the event that that doesn't come in to fruition. Either way, the drivers that are having to drive highway 50 are looking at a solution one way or the other. And all of that is good news,” Jacobs said.

The plan for each route was unveiled Thursday night for the public to seek comment.

The Central Florida Expressway told News 6 that this is all in discussion right now and that they are trying to figure out what the best solution could be--one of the proposals, or none of them.

Officials said after the meeting that the plan going forward is to continue the study and narrow down possible options. Another public meeting will be held in three or four months.


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