No More Hairpin Curve as Old Kings Road Extension Around Matanzas High Opens, Last of Big Projects
FlaglerLive | June 27, 2016
In the last of a series of recent major local road projects, county and Palm Coast officials this morning formally opened the 0.7-mile extension of Old Kings Road from Forest Grove to Matanzas Woods Parkway. The extension eliminates what had been one of the sharpest curves on a major road in the city–that 90-degree turn onto Forest Grove–and reroutes traffic away from Matanzas High School.
Earlier this month the Palm Harbor Parkway extension also opened, from Palm Harbor Parkway near Forest Grove to Matanzas Woods, returning Forest Grove to residential-road status now that traffic at either end of Forest Grove can bypass it to reach Matanzas Woods.
“We’ve eliminated a couple of 90-degree turns, but the greatest thing about that elimination is we’ve cut down traffic in front of the high school and that’s a really important safety factor,” Nate McLaughlin, one of only two county commissioners attending this morning’s ribbon-cutting at the Old Kings Road extension, said.
For Palm Coast and Flagler County, this morning’s lightly attended opening puts an end to a burst of road projects and improvements that drivers can now benefit from rather than grumble about. The season of ribbon-cuttings began with the re-dedication of Palm Coast Parkway last December, after a 1.23-mile stretch was expanded to six lanes. It continued in March with the opening of the Matanzas Woods Parkway interchange with I-95, at what’s now exit 293. Palm Coast didn’t bother with a ribbon-cutting at the Palm Harbor extension. The city also re-paved the southern portion of Old Kings Road, from Palm Coast Parkway to Town Center Boulevard, and the county, a few months ago, repaved heavily trafficked County Road 302.
But there’s a bit of ribbon-cutting fatigue: 15 of the 25 seats set out for this morning’s snip went unused (several people stood), not a single school board member showed up, and the whole thing was wrapped up in a few minutes.
“These are not new ideas, these are ideas that have taken us a while to find the funding and get it financially able to happen,” McLaughlin said, remembering how the two extensions had been talked about in the early 2000s, when he was a member of the Palm Coast Planning Board and Netts was at the beginning of his tenure on the council, as a council member rather than a mayor. (That tenure is ending, because of term limits in November.)
“It’s a fantastic project,” Netts said. “We’ve returned Forest Give to a residential street, which it should have been. We have opened up the northern end of Palm Coast and the northern end of Flagler County. We’ve expedited travel north and south. It’s a great, great project, and as Nate said, it’s one of these things that’s been visualized for many years, and it’s a combination of the interchange and this extension and the Palm Harbor extension that puts it all together, makes it functional, and I’m sure the high school is going to enjoy having less traffic in front, safer for the kids, safer for everybody, better for our community, and it’s just an example of how working together we grow our community to make this a better place to live, work and play.”
The Old Kings Road extension was a $6.7 million county project, though it was entirely paid for with state Department of Transportation dollars. The Palm Harbor extension was a city project. The school board, Jason Wheeler, a spokesperson for the district–who was at this morning’s ceremony–was pleased that construction at both ends of Forest Grove “created minimal impact on Matanzas High School,” and would now ease flow around the property.
Construction isn’t quite done. “This is the critical phase, Phase one,” Faith al-Khatib, the county engineer, said of the four-lane segment of Old Kings that opened today. But another segment of equal length is planned for the north end, past Matanzas Woods Parkway, with the road connecting to North Old Kings Road (which itself connects to U.S. 1 near Princess Place Preserve.) But that segment was turned over to Palm Coast and it’s not yet clear when it will be built.