Bald eagles spawned another surprise snag. Perched on a treetop within the project's corridor, the endangered birds hatched three eaglets during construction. Conservation laws prohibit work within 1500 feet of nesting eagles during breeding season, so contractors worked under the guidance of a qualified biologist. This also required getting last-minute permits from several regulatory agencies.

Two more complications—elementary school and utility locations—involved coordinating with school staff and the community to ensure the safety of gawking students and motorists, and cooperating with gas, electric, water, sewer, cable, and telephone utilities.

A specialty contractor removed trees and vegetation so cable-based utilities could relocate lines as soon as easements were cleared. The more costly approach enabled utility crews to stay ahead of roadway work, which prevented potential claims and delays. Most water and sewer relocations were done at night to avoid closing roads during peak-hour traffic.

The department used conscientious construction, open communication, and teamwork to complete the project 54 days ahead of schedule in May. The project is a testament to the willingness of the county's various departments to partner for success.

Polk County Public Works and Fleets Maintenance divisions
  • Services: Transportation engineering, roadway maintenance; traffic engineering and operations; natural resources; solid waste; facilities management; and fleet maintenance
  • Employees: About 500
  • Population: 540,000
  • Area served: 2010 square miles

Did you know . . . Polk County's official name is “Imperial Polk County,” a nod to the famous phrase: “All roads lead to Rome.” True or not, by the 1930s all major Florida roads went through the county.

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