"We are running at about twice the volume as was anticipated by the traffic and revenue study - and we are thrilled," OCX Chairman Atlee Mercer said.
Project manager Jan Everett from AECOM shared the firm's first set of traffic counts comparing the last two weeks of May (untolled) and the first 11 days of June (tolled.) While the vehicle counts dipped -- as expected -- the numbers far exceeded even the most optimistic projections.
The revenue study projected an average daily traffic count of less than 3,000 cars per day. The numbers are typically higher on weekdays, but even on Sundays the counts have exceeded 3,000. Granted, this is the definition of a small sample size, but it gives OCX a reason to be optimistic.
"We're averaging 4,500 trips per day and we only have one 4.5-mile stretch open," Mercer said. "Just wait until we open the next phase."
The first segment, from Marigold Avenue to U.S. 17-92, was completed ahead of schedule. The second segment extends south from Marigold to Cypress Parkway at the Polk County line, and it's scheduled to open by October. The tolling study projects 9,000 vehicles per day after the southern segment opens.
"A traffic and revenue engineer's job is to be as conservative as possible," Mercer said. "But we knew from living here there was tremendous pressure to build this road. We always thought the traffic volumes would exceed the projections."
Everett got the go ahead this week from the OCX board to add a traffic light at Cypress Parkway, provided Polk County shares in the cost.