The Oakland Police Department handled 56 traffic crashes — about half of those with injuries — in the last five years in an area bound by West Colonial to the south, Lake Apopka to the north, Machete Trail to the west and the Winters Landing Drive to the east.
This averages out to 11 crashes a year, and town officials say this is too many. They are seeking solutions to the issue of speeding vehicles and crashes and are looking at ways to create short-term improvements.
Myra Monreal, engineer, planner and traffic consultant with Myra Planning and Design, attended a workshop Aug. 24 to present to the Oakland Town Commission the results of a traffic study performed by her transportation firm.
“We learn from the behavior, what’s occurring on your roadways,” Monreal said. “We also look at peak profiles and take a snapshot of how fast vehicles are moving.”
Her firm, along with Oakland staff, took traffic counts at seven locations: Starr Street, Tubb Street and Winters Landing; three locations on Oakland Avenue; as well as a site on the West Orange Trail.
They looked at volume and speed and took into consideration whether it was a paved or unpaved road. In one 24-hour period, unpaved Starr saw 184 vehicles, paved Winters Landing had 412, and Oakland Avenue had between 3,000 and 5,000. Bicycles were included in the vehicle count.
Monreal said she looks at the three E’s: education (signage), enforcement (by police) and engineering (design) and the town is doing a great job with these.
Her presentation included several recommendations. She suggested more consistent speed limits throughout the town; Oakland currently has speed limits of 15, 20, 25 and 35 in different areas of town.
“Research shows that if you have a 20 mph speed limit, if there was to be a crash with a pedestrian, nine out of 10 times they are going to survive,” Monreal said.
She also recommended several small changes to Oakland Avenue, especially on the west side from the curve at Machete Trail heading toward West Colonial Drive. Her suggestions included shorter turn lanes, landscape islands, tactile warning devices such as rumble strips before stop signs, more four-way stops and lowering the speed limit.
Reducing the speed from 35 mph to 20 mph on a road like Oakland is asking a lot, Monreal said, but it would be manageable to lower it to 25 mph now and reconsider lowering it again in the future.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in Oakland who’s going to argue against lowering speed limits in town,” Mayor Kathy Stark said. “I like the idea of turn-lane planters and tree canopies and things that just kind of slow the traffic down.”
The commission also discussed the need to address construction vehicles and delivery trucks on the dirt roads.
Monreal said this will be less of an issue and easier to prohibit once the additional roadway networks come in that connect West Colonial to Oakland Avenue via the extensions of Starr Street and Katherine Ross Road.
The commission made no decisions because this was a workshop.
IN OTHER NEWS
The Oakland Town Commission held a regular meeting following the traffic workshop.
• Commissioners approved the revised Phase 7 South Subdivision Plan for Oakland Park, which will have 70 homesites. The changes resulted in a slight reduction in lot yield but an increase in park area and trees saved; minimizes the site work based on topography; added 10-foot landscape and fence easement and a 20-foot drainage swale to accommodate off-site drainage from adjacent homesites in Winters Landing; and wider roads for parking.
“We were asked to widen the roads for on-street parking, which will slow down traffic and allow space for guests,” said Debra Dremann, Oakland Park general manager. “(Among other changes), a large specimen tree was in the middle of a planned road – instead of removing it they created a tree island.”
“We appreciate you working with us and the diligence you’ve put into this,” Commissioner Mike Satterfield said to Dremann.
• Town Manager Steve Koontz announced that the developer interested in building an apartment complex on West Colonial Drive in Oakland has withdrawn the application and will keep it withdrawn. This decision was made following last week’s Planning & Zoning meeting, where about 50 residents showed up to protest the project and 45 others attended virtually.
• Police Chief John Peek introduced new staff members Officer Nicole Ribeiro, K9 handler Officer Andrew Ricks and his malinois puppy, Ekko.
• The commission approved several public hearings, including one pertaining to land vacation on North Brock Street for the construction of a new well.
• The commission proclaimed Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 Hispanic Heritage Month and September National Preparedness Month.