Representatives from FDOT and city government met with the community on the evening of Oct. 4 to discuss approved safety measures for a portion of S.R. 426 between Park and Lakemont avenues.
The workshop, held at Winter Park Events Center, was a first look at the final list of speed management and pedestrian safety enhancements, chosen over months of stakeholder meetings and resident input. FDOT used the feedback to create the list of measures, known as the Preferred Alternative, that was revised by city staff in July and submitted for mapping across the 1.7-mile stretch of road.
The project is the result of a public awareness campaign created by residents living along Osceola, Brewer, and Aloma avenues. Dubbed the Winter Park Road Crisis Campaign, the group officially formed in early 2022, enlisting municipal and state assistance for necessary improvements. According to data compiled by the Crisis Campaign, approximately 666 crashes occurred between 2017-2022 that resulted in two deaths, 203 injuries, and 424 incidents of property damage. Updated data, posted on the campaign Facebook page, lists 18 crashes that were reported between March and June of 2023.
“This is a big step,” said Osceola Avenue resident Leah Milan of the improvements. “People have been listening to us; there’s a long way to go, but we’ve come to this stage much faster than I would have thought.”
Among the 19 chosen safety measures are raised intersections, medians, high visibility crosswalks and enhanced bus stop markings. Bicycle lanes were requested but restricted by the width of the road. FDOT Project Development Manager Mark Trebitz told the32789 that public feedback will remain a factor as the project design phase begins next month.
“This is the last community event for the planning phase,” Trebitz said. “As we get deeper into design there will be two public meetings to update residents on the progress.” He cited utilities and other infrastructure as possible reasons for adjusting the map, and event attendees noted requests for changes to safety measures in certain areas.
“I think they’re going in the right direction,” said Ruth Rundy, who lives on S. Virginia Avenue but often travels on S.R. 426. “And I love the fact they’ve lowered the speed limit,” she said of the proposed change to 25 mph throughout the 1.7-mile section.
The current speed limit ranges between 20-35 mph. According to information on the campaign website, the average citation lists a speed of 45 mph. “Historically, we’ll have about 20% of our speed enforcement in that section of roadway,” said Winter Park Police Chief Timothy Volkerson. Aside from vehicle-to-vehicle collisions, residents have reported incidents of speeders driving onto property and crashing into barriers.
Crisis Campaign members agree that the most requested and necessary additions are traffic lights. Previous FDOT studies did not meet the criteria for additional lights in the area, but according to Trebitz, a new assessment is under way at the Cortland Avenue intersection. Desta Gundaker, who lives by the intersection, is hoping for the addition of a traffic light and a crosswalk. “So many people run across the street right there,” she said. “There is a proposed crosswalk at Brewer’s Curve, but I don’t know how many people will walk out there to use it.”
The design phase is expected to last through next year and enhancements will be added during a planned resurfacing project, scheduled to begin in August of 2025 and continue through the end of that year. While Crisis Campaign members are thankful for the progress to-date, they plan to keep a spotlight on the road and hope to gain momentum for additional traffic lights and bicycle safety solutions.
“I’m encouraged relative to where we were last year,” said longtime Trismen Terrace resident David Albertson. “The city has been very helpful – it’s definitely an improvement – but when you talk about safety for pedestrians and children, these kids deserve more.”