The long-awaited Poinciana Parkway will open to traffic on April 16, bringing relief to the area's 82,000 residents who suffer one of the nation's longest average commutes.
"The Poinciana community has been trying to have this road constructed constructed for 20-plus years to provide another outlet for the county and the region," said Jeff Jones, executive director of the Osceola County Expressway Authority (OCX).
The 10-mile toll road links Marigold Avenue to U.S. Highway 17-92 in the Polk County community of Loughman, bridging part of the Reedy Creek Swamp and improving access to Interstate 4. The $150 million project adds needed road capacity to an area that is currently served by only two roads: Pleasant Hill Road and Poinciana Road.
"I used to refer to this project as the unicorn because we had talked about it for so long," Osceola County Commissioner Brandon Arrington said. "It was like this mythical creature - and now we're finally going to bring it life."
He said the parkway, the first leg of Osceola's planned 60-mile southern beltway loop, will open up new opportunities for commercial and industrial development. The added road capacity means that new residential development can also move forward.
"That area was approved back in 1968 without any of the road connectivity that we require today," Arrington said. "We're playing catch-up. Building that first leg of the beltway was really critical because it had the most environmental issues."
Jones told GrowthSpotter the project is on schedule and under budget. Chamber of Commerce officials are planning a 5K run on the parkway the morning of April 16 before opening the road to traffic.
The OCX master plan includes a future extension and interchange with I-4. The parkway would connect on the east to the future Southport Connector, which has a planned interchange with the Florida Turnpike.