By Brian Freeman
Every year people move to Indian River County because of the wonderful quality of life offered here. In addition to the warm weather year-round and the beautiful setting along the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, residents and visitors also enjoy the stress-free traffic. Over the next 25 years, the population of Indian River County is expected to grow by another 50,000 year-round residents (plus the seasonal residents who migrate here every winter).
Identifying the transportation improvements that will be needed over the next 25 years to maintain the uncongested roads that we enjoy today is one of the primary tasks of the Indian River County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). “Connecting IRC” is the theme of the MPO’s 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan. One of the goals of the 2045 plan is “providing an efficient transportation system that is connected, responsive, aesthetically pleasing, and meets the needs of all users.”
Improvements to many “connections” are identified in the plan, and several of these will be under construction in the next few years. First is the next phase of the 66th Avenue widening. Once complete, 66th Avenue will provide a four-lane connection from CR 510 in northern Indian River County to SR 60 by Indian River Mall. Within the next five years, construction will begin on widening CR 510 (to a four-lane road from CR 512 to US 1) and the new I-95 interchange at Oslo Road. Following those projects are improvements to Oslo Road, US 1, and 82nd Avenue.
Improving connections to the Cleveland Clinic hospital are also envisioned by the plan. Aviation Blvd. will be extended east of US 1 and north to 37th Street by the hospital. A majority of the county’s population lives west of the railroad. An Aviation Blvd. overpass at the railroad and US 1 will provide a connection to the hospital that is not delayed by the train.
Whether forecasting the weather or how your favorite sports team will perform, predicting the future always includes a degree of uncertainty. Transportation is no different. Advances continue in the development of self-driving cars (or autonomous vehicles); perhaps, by 2045, a majority of cars on the road will actually drive themselves. A shift towards telecommuting occurred during the pandemic. While many workers have resumed commuting to work, some companies (especially tech companies) are making the transition to telecommuting permanent. Changes in technology sometimes happen rapidly (such as with the smartphone). Luckily, the long range transportation plan is updated every five years, and planning for the year 2050 is just around the corner.
For more information on the Indian River County MPO and the 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan, please visit the MPO’s website at www.irmpo.com.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is the principal transportation agency for Indian River County and the cities of Vero Beach, Sebastian, Indian River Shores, Fellsmere, and Orchid. In addition to the long range plan, the MPO also prepares bicycle/pedestrian plans, greenways plans, transit development plans, and a five-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). For more information on the MPO’s plans and programs, please visit the MPO’s website at www.irmpo.com. The MPO also publishes a monthly newsletter known as The MPOverview. To receive The MPOverview in your inbox, please visit the MPO’s website and click on “Sign up for MPO updates!” Or contact the MPO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Freeman is the Staff Director of the Indian River County Metropolitan Planning Organization. A graduate of Clemson University, Brian has been an Indian River County resident and planner since 2003. He and his wife, Carolina, have three kids and one dog.