Windermere leaders are hoping to minimize the impact of cut-through traffic in the wake of development and growth.
Windermere Town Council members sat down Tuesday, June 25, to dive back into a search for solutions for the town’s cut-through traffic.
Over the past 10 to 15 years, residents have been experiencing an increase in traffic throughout the small town. A recent study commissioned by the town from Kimley-Horn and Associates LLC confirmed that a majority of the town’s traffic originated outside town limits with a destination also outside the town.
According to the study — which analyzed GPS data from 2016 — a reported 76% of traffic on Chase Road and Park Avenue was traffic just passing through. Cut-through traffic also made up 64% of vehicles on Sixth Avenue and 55% of vehicles on Maguire Road.
Chase Road connects the town to Horizon West, a sector of the county that is continuously growing and developing.
Smith said the amount of traffic going through the town not only affects quality of life in the town of Windermere but also could impact everything from fire and EMS services to mail and solid waste.
“I can seriously say that when they were planning Horizon West … I don’t think they were planning on it impacting other sectors like it has impacted us,” Town Manager Robert Smith said.
Both internal and external solutions for the traffic problems were suggested in the study. Internal solutions included building a roundabout at Windermere Road and Maguire Road and establishing a continuous right turn on the southern approach to Chase Road from Main Street, making it easier to get traffic in and out of the town.
Both projects would require monetary assistance from Orange County.
Operation Dusty Roads part Deux
In addition to cut-through traffic, the council also discussed ways to handle complaints from citizens regarding vehicles speeding and driving recklessly around the residential streets.
The Windermere Police Department increased patrol presence for 63 days between Feb. 25 and May 29 during busy periods Monday through Friday in a project called Operation Dusty Roads Part Deux.
The officers focused mainly on a southeast quadrant of the town encompassing Oakdale, Magnolia and Bessie streets in the mornings and a northeast quadrant in the evenings, which included Oakdale and Magnolia streets and Ridgewood Drive. Officers conducted 173 traffic stops, 118 of which were people who live outside the 34786 ZIP code.
Police also conducted a traffic study of these residential streets and a few larger roadways throughout the town. At each point, at least 85% of vehicles were recorded as traveling within the posted speed limit.
According to the study, officers concluded the traffic issue on residential streets is “one of volume and not a clear ongoing speeding or reckless driving issue as reported.”
An unclear path
The group briefly discussed the idea of moving traffic back onto Main Street from residential streets by placing barriers in strategic locations. The council acknowledged the pros and cons of the barriers saying, while they would limit the traffic, they would also limit residents.
The next Windermere Town Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, at Town Hall, 520 Main St.