Following car crashes, Orange County approves Reams Road traffic study

Commissioners approved the study, which will examine safer designs, right-of-way and signalization.

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  • | 10:50 a.m. May 31, 2017
  • Southwest Orange
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HORIZON WEST –– Following years of crashes and ongoing reports of head-on collisions and fatalities on Ficquette and Reams roads, the Orange County Commission approved a traffic study during its April 25 meeting.

The approval came shortly before the road’s latest fatality May 9, when 27-year-old Kissimmee resident Angel Febus Rios died in a head-on collision near Greenbank Boulevard.

“The speed limit was I believe 45 in one area and 55 in another,” said Samantha Kriger, 27, a resident who also was injured in another recent collision on Reams. “I know the county moved it down since a couple of accidents have happened. It’s a very windy road … and it’s one lane right next to another with no rumble strips, no nothing. So it gets dangerous because people veer into the other lane and they aren’t paying attention. … So people are accidentally driving into the other lanes and causing head-on accidents.”

Kriger was in a head-on collision April 2 while driving home after purchasing a kennel for some cats she had rescued. She suffered a broken spine, traumatic brain injury and a sprained wrist. The other driver crossed into her lane traveling at about 50 mph, she said. The doctors told her that despite her spine injury, she had been lucky, because she could have been paralyzed.

Some residents who have lived in the area for years are used to the stories of the numerous crashes on the road. Windermere resident Patrick Spikes, who volunteers his time teaching kids about road safety with Tire Rack Street Survival, recalls hearing stories of crashes ending in serious injuries or death on the road, even as a kid.  

“I’m a local; I’ve been around here since Disney was built, and people and cast members have been dying on that road since Disney was put in,” Spikes said. “It’s just a small, poorly lit two-lane road. ... And sadly, that road has always claimed life and limb ever since Disney was built out there, and that will continue unless there’s maybe an actual physical barrier put out there between the two lanes.”

The situation has not improved much since Spikes’ childhood, but Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey said the county is paying attention and working to do what it can. 

The county’s Roadway Conceptual Analysis Study starts this summer and is expected to be completed by spring 2018, providing the framework needed to widen the road to four lanes by 2020.

“Reams Road is carrying a lot of traffic, and it’s developing faster than was anticipated,” VanderLey said. “So this summer, there will be a Reams Road traffic study that will kick off, and it will look at wildlife in the corridor, it will look at speed and safety issues and possibly straightening out curves — it’ll look at the whole thing comprehensively and make some recommendations.”

In the interim, VanderLey said, the county will take steps to increase the visibility of the speed-limit signs by adding orange flags. It also will install more wildlife crossing signs, she said. Furthermore, the county will implement intense enforcement of the speed limits for the next couple of weeks to ensure speeders and reckless drivers are ticketed.

“We know there’s an issue, and we’re working on it aggressively,” VanderLey said. “But it’s just that these things take time, because we have to make sure that whatever we change out there doesn’t make it worse.”

Kriger, who lost her job during her recovery period because her employer could no longer hold her position, said she would be grateful for anything the county can do to make the road safer and prevent others from going through what she endured or worse.

“I think anything (the county) can do to make it safer would be worth the money and investment of time,” she said. “Just anything they can do because it’s just not a safe road right now.”


Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].



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