District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey said Orange County staff is waiting on backlogged equipment to install the much-needed traffic signal.
You know a traffic intersection is particularly dangerous when locals nickname it “the intersection of death.”
That’s the reputation that precedes the three-way intersection conjoining Ficquette Road, Reams Road and Summerlake Park Boulevard.
“I live about three miles from there and travel that road at least once a week,” said Kevin Root, a victim of a traffic accident four years ago, near the intersection of Tiny and Tilden roads, that required more than 40 surgeries and years of rehab. “That intersection is awful. There’s no light there. It’s got a goofy turn. It’s just too small, too outdated, and there’s no easy way to navigate it. There have been several issues there. They need to hurry and do something before it becomes a bigger problem.”
But a solution, albeit much delayed, is on the way. Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey said traffic engineers are working on roadway improvements to increase the safety of the ill-reputed area.
“It’s a really big problem there because it was built as a country road for the occasional car, but now it’s carrying a lot more traffic than it was originally designed to carry (due to) all of the development taking place in Horizon West,” VanderLey said.
The Ficquette Road Segment G, H-1 and H-2 roadway improvement project, which includes several modifications to the intersection, isn’t scheduled to begin construction until 2022 and see completion until 2024. However, VanderLey worked out a plan to install a traffic signal at the intersection a few years ahead of schedule.
“(The roadway) is not targeted to be widened until 2022, but because that corner is so acute, I was able to convince staff to pull the light out and design the light with the width of the road in mind for the eventual construction and get that light in,” VanderLey said. “So the design is done, and the equipment parts were ordered last October. It was anticipated it would be all done by Christmas. However, the manufacturer of the mast arms has a significant backlog, and we’re seeing that on a number of different traffic signals in Horizon West in particular, but also all over the county.”
VanderLey was made aware of the dangerous situation by Horizon West residents after coming into office. Installing a traffic light there ahead of the original construction timeline seemed like the best solution, she said.
The county expects to receive the required mast arm by late spring or early summer, she said.
In the meantime, temporary rumble strips will be installed to discourage drivers from traveling Reams Road at high speeds. The rumble strips will be removed once the light is installed.
“I’m just trying to get as creative as I can and trying to think of anything I can to mitigate the situation while we’re waiting on the alternate solution,” VanderLey said.