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State Road 542 Design Projects

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About the Projects

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Project Need

Improvements to SR 542 between Winter Haven and Dundee will provide additional capacity to address:

  • Expected traffic demands within the corridor;
  • Economic growth from Legoland and associated planned retail developments in Winter Haven;
  • Future population growth in Polk County; and,
  • Importance of a safer roadway and as a hurricane evacuation route.

The SR 542 projects are consistent with the Polk Transportation Planning Organization's Momentum 2040 Plan, the county’s long range transportation plan.

Project History

FDOT completed a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study of SR 542 from 1st Street in Winter Haven to US 27 in Dundee resulting in the approval of an Environmental Assessment/Finding of No Significant Impact (EA/FONSI) by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in July 2009. The approval allows the use of federal funds for future project phases.

During the course of the PD&E study, FDOT conducted a Cultural Resource Assessment Study (CRAS) that identified the South Lake Elbert Historic District, within the limits of Project 1, as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NHRP). FDOT formed a Cultural Resource Committee to assist with developing ideas on how to address potential impacts to the historic district resulting from future road construction.

The committee helped create a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by FDOT, FHWA and the Florida State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). The MOA includes conditions that must be followed during the widening of SR 542 near Lake Elbert. You may view the MOA at the following link: SR 542 MOA.

The department reconvened the Cultural Resources Committee (CRC) during the design phase of Project 1. The committee included representatives of FHWA, FDOT, SHPO, the City of Winter Haven, the American Council on Historic Preservation and residents from the South Lake Elbert Historic District.

The committee held a meeting on August 14, 2012 at Winter Haven City Hall to explain changes in the roadway design from the conceptual design approved by FHWA in 2009. FDOT received two public comments both in support of the current proposed design. You can view a slide show presented at the meeting by clicking on the following link: CRC Slides.

In December 2012, FHWA approved the MOA status update provided by FDOT. The update concluded that the conditions listed in the MOA have been implemented or are presently in process. The update also stated that there are no substantive alternations in the project design that could result in additional adverse effects to any historic resources identified during cultural resource surveys. No additional cultural resource analysis or MOA amendments are required. In January 2013, the SHPO concurred with the findings.

The City of Winter Haven is preparing a nomination form to qualify the South Lake Elbert Historic District for listing on the NRHP. City representatives plan to meet with property owners within the eligible historic district boundaries in early 2013 followed by a presentation to the Winter Haven City Commission. Then, the form can be submitted to the State Review Board at one of its quarterly meetings.

FDOT is preparing the design plans for Projects 1 and 2 at the same time. Right-of-way acquisition for Project 1 was completed in late 2016. Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2018. Right-of-way acquisition for Project 2 is underway and will continue until winter 2019. Construction is scheduled in fiscal year 2019/2020.