Officials from the Orange County Transportation Planning Division laid out details for a roadway-widening project planned for the highly congested Reams Road during a community meeting Dec. 13.
Presently, between 14,100 to 16,800 vehicles travel the roadway on a daily basis, according to the county’s traffic analysis. By 2045, the county estimates those numbers to rise between 26,700 and 29,900 vehicles daily.
Blanche Hardy, the project manager, briefly went over the data the division collected during the study, including crash statistics. According to Hardy, 114 vehicle crashes have occurred between 2014 and 2017 within the project’s parameters. Of those, 78 took place at the intersection of Floridian Place and Center Drive, and 15 at Newmarket Drive and Bay Court. The road also is failing west of Floridian Place, she said.
To address the failing sections and congestion, the department suggested possible alternative solutions which were presented during the first community meeting held Thursday, Oct. 5. At that meeting, the dominant concerns expressed related to bicycle and pedestrian facilities, median openings, drainage and wildlife fatalities.
In response to those concerns and a survey of the preferred alternative solution, the county’s transportation officials decided to move forward with the Centered/Hybrid Alignment Alternative design, which calls for a five-foot continuous sidewalk on the south side of the roadway and a 14-foot multi-use trail on the north side with two travel lanes measuring 22 feet in total on both sides of the 19.5-foot median.
With the Centered/Hybrid Alignment, no residential or business relocations will be required to acquire the needed rights-of-way to widen the road to four lanes and add pedestrian and bike-friendly trails. Currently, the sidewalks along the roadway are intermittent and the trail exists in short segments.
In addition, roadway and drainage improvements will reduce the risk of flooding witnessed during Hurricane Irma in several locations and the potential for wildlife fatalities, Hardy said. The county has proposed a potential wildlife crossing just east of Greenbank Boulevard, which will have a wet crossing for marine animals and a dry crossing for land animals.
But one of the biggest changes is the proposed addition of the realignment of Center Drive to create a full signalized intersection with pedestrian crossings at the 7-Eleven driveway. This signal, she said, is expected to improve safety and visibility at the intersection, which was requested by residents who had concerns regarding poor visibility and people turning the wrong way to make left-hand turns on Center Drive.
This meeting was the final community meeting for the project’s study before the proposal is sent to the county’s Local Planning Agency committee and Orange County Board of County Commissioners for review.
The Board of County Commissioners Work Session will be held in February, with a public hearing anticipated to take place in March. If approved, construction will begin in 2021 and is expected to take up to two years.
Anyone seeking more information may visit Reamsroadstudy.com, and anyone with questions may contact Blanche Hardy at (407) 836-0257 or email Blanche. [email protected].