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Sidewalk project on 41 ahead of schedule

By Staff | Apr 12, 2017

Residents who live in the various retirement communities along U.S. 41 will soon have a much easier time getting to the various shopping centers on that road, including the new one on the corner of 41 and Del Prado Boulevard.

Meanwhile, drivers won’t have to worry about people walking on the shoulder and risk hitting pedestrians.

The $2.3 million sidewalk project goes from San Soucy Drive just past where old and New 41 meet, to Tara Boulevard, just past the Raintree RV Resort, roughly 2.6 miles on both sides of 41.

There will also be drainage improvements with ditches along the side of the road to make it so the pathway doesn’t flood as it has been known to do in the summer.

Zach Burch, communications director for the Florida Department of Transportation, said the project, which began with the new year, was slated to be completed by mid-fall. It has progressed further than expected with all the dry weather and is now expected to be finished late September or early October.

Burch said that could change depending on how wet the summer gets, but that hasn’t changed their goals.

“We haven’t had any rain yet to speak of, but as we get into the summer, rain always becomes a factor,” Burch said. “Still, our goal is to be done in the early part of the fall.”

Burch said much of the work on the southbound side is complete, while the northbound side is still in the beginning stages with work being done in the Prairie Pines area.

It’s an important project to the retirees who use their golf carts or other forms of transportation to get to the store.

The project was driven by the communities, who showed how many people were walking and the walking traffic. The DOT saw the need and put the project forward.

Before this, people had to walk on the grass or even along the road, which could be especially dangerous.

“A lot of people in the communities didn’t have a good way to walk. You could see where they wore a path down,” Burch said. “When you walk in the grass in the summer, it becomes difficult with the rain. That led to people walking on the shoulder of the road.”

While not one of the big road-widening projects, this project was considered a big improvement as it will keep people from walking on the road, especially a busy one like 41.

“It’s not only an improvement for the communities, but also the drivers, who get nervous when they see people walking afoot, and it can cause problems for them,” Burch said “The neighbors are very excited.”