ORANGE COUNTY Following a months-long study of Reams Road, Orange County Transportation Planning Division officials have determined the road, which is already failing to accommodate daily traffic volumes in certain areas, is in need of additional lanes.
During a community meeting on Thursday, Oct. 5, officials presented their findings and proposed ideas, having recently completing their study of the 3.1-mile stretch of Reams Road from Summerlake Park Boulevard to Taborfield Avenue.
“We have a lot of gaps in our complete street requirements,” said Blanche Hardy, project manager with the Orange County Transportation Planning Division.
According to study documents, between 14,100 and 16,800 vehicles travel the 3.1-mile section of Reams Road daily. From south of Summerlake Park Boulevard to the intersection of Floridian Place, the roadway is already failing to accomodate the traffic, Hardy said.
If the roadway isn’t widened, Hardy said the department estimated the daily traffic volume would increase to between 26,700 and 29,900 vehicles by 2045.
The study also noted that 114 vehicle crashes had occurred between 2014 and 2017 on that stretch of Reams Road. However, 78 of those crashes took place near the intersection of Floridian Place.
“Reams Road is a death road,” said local resident Bonnie Welcome, who voiced concerns about the increasing traffic and accidents on the roadway. “It’s sad we have to see this so often.”
Three different construction options were proposed during the meeting, but Hardy said the Transportation Planning Division’s first choice would be be a centered/hybrid alignment. This particular proposition would include widening the roadway to four lanes, inserting a median and installing a sidewalk on the south side of the roadway and a multi-use trail on north side.
Although most people at the meeting expressed enthusiasm for the widening of the roadway, construction likely would not begin until 2020 or 2021, with an estimated completion in 2023.
After learning of the proposed timeline, many were concerned about local wildlife, as roadkill is a common sighting along Reams Road.
To decrease the amount of wildlife being killed in oncoming traffic, the county installed flashing wildlife signs along Reams Road to caution drivers. Officials hoped that these signs coupled with the recent speed limit decrease to 45 mph will help lower the number of animal fatalities. According to county documents, there already has been a 20% reduction in animal fatalities over the last few months.
However, the widening of Reams Road also could include a wildlife crossing to protect animals from oncoming traffic.
Attendees also voiced concerns over sidewalk space, inquiring if any more sidewalks will be installed prior to the completion of construction in 2023. However, Hardy said the county has no plans to install more sidewalks until the start of construction.
“It’s dangerous,” said Rich McCaffrey, who frequently runs along Reams Road but refuses to bike on the road because of to safety concerns. “You worry for your safety. You hope as you’re running out there that (drivers) see you.”