What will wider road mean for them?
Residents near the Veterans Expressway hear widening the road would help commuters. But, they ask, what about their homes and quality of life?
By AMBER MOBLEY
Published August 12, 2005
TOWN 'N COUNTRY - Life was mighty different for Betty Morris before the Veterans Expressway shot its way in front of her house just south of Barry Road.
In the decade since, the sounds of "cars and trucks and motorcycles" drown out the once-familiar croaks and chirps and scurries of "frogs and birds and squirrels."
Now, traffic and commuter complaints are fueling a proposed widening of the Veterans, a thought that Morris and some other residents who live near the Expressway are dreading.
About 30 people like Morris who live near the Veterans met Monday with officials from Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, a public-private entity that operates the state's turnpikes and toll roads. Folks came to vent current frustrations, past problems and future concerns about their homes and their quality of life as it relates to the Veterans.
Officials at the meeting said widening the toll road from four lanes to eight will alleviate traffic congestion. Residents told officials to look for other options because the harm of widening the road far outweighs the benefits.
"Any time you expand into a rural area like this, you see the impact," said Stan Hafers, president of the Pat Acres Civic Association. "We get absolutely no benefit here, just the impact."
Bill Browne, president of the Town 'N Country Alliance, agrees.
"It will not benefit Town 'N Country," Browne said, "and the bottom line is, it's really unfortunate when anybody has to suffer."
Residents recalled cracked foundations, wells and pools they attribute to the Veterans Expressway's initial construction; dirty walls they link to traffic exhaust; and sleepless nights caused by noise pollution.
"It's not right and it's not fair," said Hafers. Many said widening the Veterans will only add to the frustration.
Yet, officials involved in the proposed widening of the Expressway are ready to hear these and other concerns, said Ronald Gregory, vice president and senior project manager of URS, the consulting firm in charge of studying construction possibilities and the potential impact of that construction.
Gregory urged attendees to fill out comment forms before they left the two-hour-long meeting Monday.
The state, which began studying the area in March, doesn't expect any definitive answers until early 2006 but is requesting comments in the meantime, said Henry Pinzon, a Turnpike project manager.
A Web site, www.veteransexpressway.com has information about Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, and a Web site that's scheduled to be up next week, www.veteransexpressway
widening.com, will have maps and additional information specifically about the Veterans project.
Concerned citizens can also mail comments to Pinzon at Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, P.O. Box 613069, Ocoee, FL 34761-3069.
[Last modified August 11, 2005, 08:56:11]
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