The future of safe transportation came into focus with an update on Winter Park’s Transportation Master Plan at an April 27 city work session. According to the timeline, the plan is in the final phases of identifying citywide improvement projects and technology evaluations. Cost estimates and project prioritization will continue through July.
Public Works and Transportation Department staff, along with representatives from Orlando-based civil engineering firm Patel, Green & Associates, presented City Commission with an overview of the 20-year plan that offers solutions for safe intersections, pedestrian connectivity, and traffic and parking management.
One key project is the creation of a pedestrian and biking network between low volume, low speed streets, also known as a greenway.
“Winter Park has the opportunity to develop its own signature greenway system,” said Patel, Green & Associates senior planner Lucas Cruse. “How you make that fit together is a system of routes and a system of crossings.”
According to Cruse, the greenway plan would connect the Denning Drive corridor to Mead Gardens and the downtown area with bicycle and walking paths. New pavement would improve walking and biking, new signage and landscaping would identify the paths, and online maps would offer turn-by-turn directions to sites along the route.
A total of 16 new crossing locations were also identified along Fairbanks Avenue, Lee Road and Howell Branch Road. “There’s long distances of big roads where there’s just nowhere to cross,” said Cruse.
The plan offers high tech solutions for improving pedestrian and traffic safety throughout the city. Highlights include:
- Accessible intersections where sensors monitor sidewalk activity and employ sound and vibration cues to aid visually and hearing impaired pedestrians.
- Intersection Collision Avoidance System Programming (iCASP) to monitor the speed of vehicles approaching a changing signal and predict a red-light runner. Sensors control traffic signals and can hold red lights for approaching vehicles to avoid collisions.
- Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) technology that creates wireless communication between automated vehicles and roadway infrastructure, such as traffic signals and signs, to share information and provide time to slow speeds and avoid accidents.
Public Works Director Charles Ramdatt noted that he and Winter Park Police Chief Tim Volkerson were in the early stages of developing a traffic management center where information – gathered from intersections with smart sensor technology – could be coordinated to adjust traffic signal intervals, and efficiently manage volume during high traffic hours. Ramdatt said the center would be similar to those he helped develop during his tenure as Smart Cities Program Director for the City of Orlando.
“What it also does is give you the agility to manage special events without having a whole bunch of public safety personnel at each intersection,” he said.
Ramdatt discussed a street parking management option that uses streetlight-mounted sensors to keep track of available spaces in real time, and record data for future reference.
“It could allow you to go into an app and, say, on a typical Thursday afternoon between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., see how many parking spaces are available on a certain block,” he explained.
The city has already conducted pavement-mounted parking sensor tests, but the lack of marked spaces along Park Avenue affects the accuracy of the information.
Ramdatt and Cruse both noted that the 20-year timeframe of the Transportation Master Plan means current technologies would be obsolete by the time many of the projects are implemented, but that new software could lead to even more efficient management options.
The next Transportation Master Plan discussion is set for July with the entire plan expected to be drawn up by the end of August.