I-4 congestion causing headache for private roads

Posted at 5:40 PM, Jun 16, 2017

I-4 congestion in Polk County is pushing traffic onto the back roads.

In some areas, it's gotten so clogged, big warning signs have gone up on private property.

But neighbors along Happy Trails say enough is enough.

And when you take a trip down Goodman Road near the Polk-Osceola line, you'll know why.

A giant 12 foot, white and red sign has gone up to warn drivers that they're trespassing.

The mile stretch road along Happy Trails is sandwiched between two public roadways, and has been deemed for private use for years.

But after spending more than $250,000 on the stretch to pave it, the HOA is upset that public traffic is using the roadway.

"The added weight the added traffic the road was never designed to handle that. We paid to have this road paved and now with all this traffic we are seeing a significant deterioration to the culverts underneath the road," Sebastian Mascaro, a Happy Trails resident, said.

A recent traffic study shows traffic has tripled in the last few years along the road, causing problems.

That's because a private road doesn't have to be maintained or even built up to FDOT standards.

Lower quality, means it won't last nearly as long and in the end the HOA is the one who will have to pay for the repairs.

And with the large sign not stopping anyone, the only option left may to add a gate. Something, residents aren't sure they're on board with.

"The fight for us is not that we want to block this off, it's we want to address this piece. We are really addressing a major issue for all of the Happy Trails and all of its roads," Mascaro explained.

But until the gate, or whatever else is implemented, drivers like Lisa Coons says people will continue to use the road, especially with I-4 traffic as terrible as it is.

"It's tremendously hard for people to get to work," Coons said. "Most people started figuring this out and they started using it.

There are proposed changes to major highways and the interstate that could take effect as early as 2018.

Changes like widening I-4 near Highway 27 and adding multiple new roads and interchanges to help alleviate traffic congestion.