The latest plans, filed May 10 with the South Florida Water Management District, call for an extension of World Drive that will allow visitors to Disney resort properties to bypass the Magic Kingdom parking gate.
"Those are open travel lanes," RCID Manager John Classe told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday. "Right now, if you're staying at the Contemporary or Polynesian, you have to go through the parking gate. So we are realigning World Drive to avoid parking plaza. You'll actually fly over the parking lot."
World Drive will be elevated and an interchange built at the Vista Boulevard interchange, and a new cloverleaf ramp will allow westbound drivers to go south on World Drive for the first time.
"It's not an option today," Classe said. "We're going to take out the traffic signal by doing the cloverleaf -- so that is a new access that doesn't exist today."
Another advantage of the World Drive extension is that it provides better access to and from the Fort Wilderness Campground and Disney's swanky Golden Oak community on Vista. "Right now the road kind of dead-ends into the parking lot," Classe said.
The existing road network forces those motorists to drive north on World Drive, turn left onto Floridian Way and loop around the Magic Kingdom to go south.
The road improvement, designed by TLP Engineering Consultants, is expected to start later this year and cost about $65 million. "We are at the 60-percent stage of plans for the roadway and bridges. We will be issuing proposals and selecting contractor in late fall," Classe said.
As with all road work within the Reedy Creek district, only pre-qualified contractors will be invited to bid on the two-year contract. Classe said that since this project is less complicated than the $190 million Osceola Parkway-World Drive interchange, more contractors will be pre-qualified.
Firms interested in getting pre-qualified should contact the district's Contracts and Risk Management Department to initiate conversations.
Classe said the RCID has more road improvements planned and will be filing permit applications this summer. Western Way, which provides access to Hwy. 429 and the Flamingo Crossing area, will be extended to Avalon Road and provide a new east-west access point onto Disney property.
Center Drive Phase 2 is also in the 30-percent design stage. That project involves construction of a new segment of Center Drive that will bypass a segment of Floridian Way north of Magic Kingdom.
"We're doing it for two reasons," Classe said. "First is to provide easier traffic flow from Reams Road. As you know, there's been a lot of development from Horizon West. The other reason is that at nighttime, when fireworks go off, (Floridian Way) is closed for safety reasons. This was moved on outside of fireworks area so it can stay open during fireworks."