Wildwood commissioners Tuesday endorsed a $6.7-million plan to improve Clay Drain Road and Signature Drive, a narrow stretch of road that provides a bypass to heavily traveled U.S. 301 and State Road 44.
Commissioners adopted an engineering study offered by Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc. of Ocala, an early step in the process of improving the road.
Clay Drain Road begins at U.S. 301 about a block south of the SR 44 intersection and runs east through an industrial park to Signature Drive, which then runs north to the Powell Road and SR 44 intersection.
The two roads provide a less congested shortcut for Villagers exiting the Florida Turnpike and planning to go north on Powell Road to County Road 466A. Eventually, Clay Drain Road will become right-turn only at U.S. 301 so it is expected to be used mostly by eastbound traffic.
But Clay Drain Road today often floods and is barely wide enough for two cars to pass.
Traffic is expected nearly to double from about 6,440 vehicles daily in 2025, when the improvements could be finished, to 11,170 two decades later, according to the Kimley Horn study.
The study recommends expanding the road on its north side to create wider pavement and drainage ditches, but keeping it one lane in each direction. The expansion would require city acquisition of a strip of adjacent property.
Four drainage ponds would be created to ease flooding problems.
A curve would replace stop signs at the intersection of the two roads. The study also suggests upgrading Signature Drive at SR 44 to include three northbound lanes for turning vehicles and those continuing to Powell Drive.
Mayor Ed Wolf said the importance of the road will increase as the Florida Department of Transportation makes improvements to U.S. 301.
“There are going to be a lot of growing pains with this,” he said. “You better expect that one day it’s going to become a four-lane road.”