Orange County taxpayers to foot $500K for neighborhood .16 mile wall

- Orange County will spend $494,000 to build a wall that is just .16 miles long outside of a fancy neighborhood. The Eastwood neighborhood sits just behind Alafaya Trail at Golfway Drive and features a golf course. Orange County decided to widen Alafaya Trail through this area. Public Works Project Manager Frank Yokiel says when they did, they needed to elevate the road, because of the low water tables in this area.

When that happened, there were several spots where people could see right into the back yards of homes in the subdivision.  "Because the road is higher, the existing wall basically did not cover the view." Traffic noise from the busy road had been a problem as well, and Yokiel says the County did hear from the residents. "We did hear from them. We tried to shield the road and the sidewalk from the homes with landscaping and trees."

Yokiel says this project could have cost much more than the $494,000 they are spending if they had not tried to keep that budget low, and put the widened highway where it was naturally suited.  "One of the things we try to do is keep the road within the existing right of way. It would have cost us much much more, probably up to 3 million dollars because we would have been purchasing those homes along Alafaya Trail."

The wall will be 10 feet high to keep nosy motorists from being able to see into the neighborhood. Yokiel says it will be a panel style wall different from the stucco that makes up the wall that is there now. "A big piece of that $494,000 is the removal of the existing wall structure, taking that out."

The county hopes to finish the work quickly.

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