The Kirkman Road extension will include an elevated traffic circle.
Orange County has made progress on the extension of Kirkman Road, which will serve Universal Orlando Resort’s Epic Universe theme park.
The $315 million, 1.7-mile project’s construction can be seen from Sand Lake Road and Universal Boulevard. Work started on the project in 2021, which expands the road from Carrier Drive through Sand Lake Road and down to Universal Boulevard, along with a new circular interchange at Sand Lake Road.
Construction on the eight-lane roadway — which will include dedicated bus lanes and pedestrian improvements — is expected to wrap up near the end of 2024, before Universal’s Epic Universe park opens by the summer of 2025.
Why does the Kirkman Road extension matter in Orlando?
The new roadway will serve as a connection to Universal’s new theme park and provide additional ways to navigate the tourist corridor. Mobility in the tourist corridor is important to visitors, employees and residents. Universal’s new Epic Universe park is expected to bring more than 14,000 direct new jobs in the I-Drive corridor that will add to the area’s traffic congestion.
“Between major expansions to the convention center and Universal poised to develop on more than 750 acres of land, the extension was imperative,”
“We can offer great attractions, but if people can’t navigate their way to and from them in a timely and convenient manner, it defeats the purpose of having them.”Darrell Moody, public relations and outreach specialist for Orange County Public Works,
Universal is working with Orange County and the Florida Department of Commerce on the project as part of a public/private partnership. Universal is providing $160 million for the project, while Orange County funded $125 million, and a Florida Department of Commerce grant provided $16 million.
Meanwhile, highway and bridge construction starts gained 13% through September compared to the same nine-month period last year, according to Hamilton, New Jersey-based Dodge Construction Network. All nonbuilding construction starts, which include transportation infrastructure, were up 25% during that period.
That growth comes as construction starts in general face some headwinds.
“Over the last 12 months, construction starts have essentially froze as rates increased and credit tightened. The industry needs further adjusting as rates are expected to stay higher for longer, along with the potential for higher energy costs and continued political uncertainty. A return to broad-based growth in construction starts is still some time away.”Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Construction Network