The planned improvements brought mixed feelings to the city of Okeechobee. The project calls for resurfacing State Road 70, improving drainage, installing curb, gutter and guard rails, adding traffic signals and installing signage and pavement markers. Though these improvements will be appreciated, the timing of the project was not.
In Okeechobee, the population increases drastically during the winter and spring months. This causes traffic disruptions on its own. Adding in a construction zone along the main gateway to the city caused great trepidation to concerned citizens who expressed these concerns to the Okeechobee City Council, the mayor and to Ritter.
Ritter, who said he has always believed it never hurts to ask, did the unthinkable and emailed the Florida Department of Transportation to ask if the project could be delayed. He explained not only about the population increase during these months but also that the city’s Speckled Perch festival and parade take place in March.
Ritter was surprised but thrilled to receive a reply right away saying there was no problem with delaying the project. The project was originally scheduled to begin Jan. 23. The construction has been rescheduled to begin on May 1.
The project is expected to take eight months to complete.