'It's going to be a nightmare': U.S. 27 to close through Lake Wales during the weekend

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Construction began in September 2020 on the redesign of the interchange at U.S. 27 and State Road 60 in Lake Wales. That work will close U.S. 27 this weekend.
Construction began in September 2020 on the redesign of the interchange at U.S. 27 and State Road 60 in Lake Wales. That work will close U.S. 27 this weekend.

The Florida Department of Transportation is closing a segment of U.S. 27 in Lake Wales for construction through the weekend, forcing detours around the city's main thoroughfare.

"It's going to be a major issue," City Commissioner Robin Gibson said. "There are not a lot of side feeder roads."

The closure will affect a piece of U.S. 27 at State Road 60 from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Monday. But the work — a $57 million FDOT project to make the U.S. 27/ SR 60 interchange safer— isn't expected to be complete until 2025. Construction started in September 2020.

Previously: Major Lake Wales interchange improvement could cause detours, delays into 2025

More: Polk County commissioners side with developer for 45-home project near Timberlane Road

During the road closure, northbound drivers will be required to detour around the area by turning right on SR 60, left on South 1st St., left on West Central before being put back onto U.S. 27.

Southbound drivers will be required to turn right on Central Avenue, left onto SR 60 and then merge onto Frontage Road to access the ramp to get back onto U.S. 27 southbound.

"These detours will be signed and law enforcement will be on site to assist," Tricia Pichette, an FDOT district one spokesperson, said in an email.

The FDOT project is intended to make the busy interchange safer for motorists and pedestrians.

FDOT photo shows the area of U.S. 27 that will be closed for construction through the weekend. Green arrows represent the detour routes.
FDOT photo shows the area of U.S. 27 that will be closed for construction through the weekend. Green arrows represent the detour routes.

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U.S. 27 and SR 60 will be widened from four to six lanes. Additional improvements include bicycle lanes, curbs and gutters, signals, lighting, signage, pavement markings, a closed drainage system, and sidewalks, according to FDOT.

In addition, a new bridge will be constructed over US 27 and an urban frontage road will be constructed in the southwest quadrant of the project for access to local businesses. A noise wall along SR 60 from South Miami Street to west of Sharp Street will be installed, according to FDOT.

Eric Marshall, the city of Lake Wales' marketing and communications specialist, said the project is necessary.

"It's a great time to be part of the City of Lake Wales," he said in an email on behalf of City Manager James Slaton. "As our city grows in population, our road infrastructure must be enhanced to safely accommodate the increase in traffic."

The average traffic that travels this segment of US 27 ranges from 17,600 vehicles near US 98 to 29,000 vehicles near SR 60 each day, according to FDOT.

The volumes are predicted to increase to between 42,800 and 52,800 vehicles daily by 2040, the agency says.

US 27 is also a regional freight corridor that is a vital link between Interstate 4 and Miami, carrying on average between 3,200 and 3,700 trucks per day, which is about 20 percent of the total daily traffic volume.

"Truck traffic is expected to increase significantly now that CSX Integrated Logistics Center (ILC) near Winter Haven is operational,"Pichette said, "In addition, expansion of regional distribution facilities located in the Frostproof Industrial Area Freight Activity Center is also expected to contribute to increased truck traffic on US 27

The project limits are from Lake Altamaha to the CSX railroad crossing on US 27, from Central Avenue to Martin Luther King Boulevard on SR 60, and approximately 800 feet west of US 27 to Miami Street on Central Avenue.

Commissioner Terrye Howell said she's concerned about the impact the ongoing construction, and especially the weekend closure, will have on businesses along the corridor.

"I'm sad for them," she said. "It's going to cause a lot of problems, and any business in that area is going to be impacted. I wish this project moved faster. I wish there was a speed dial."

She added, "It's going to be a nightmare, but eventually, it will be over."

Dustin Wyatt covers Polk County government and county-wide issues. He can be reached at dwyatt@gannett.com or on Twitter @LLDustin_Wyatt.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: U.S. 27 set to close at SR 60 in Lake Wales this weekend

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