Crashes prompt FDOT to install barriers at dangerous Tavares intersection

$143,000 project expected to be finished this summer

TAVARES, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation will begin construction on permanent barriers at the intersection of Highway 441 and Lake Shore Boulevard after two SUVs lost control and plunged into Lake Eustis last year. 

The first incident happened in July and was caught on video from a nearby restaurant, The Fish Camp on Lake Eustis. Then, the owner Jim Jordan said he hoped barriers would be put up. 

"It's very scary because you don't want a tragedy like that to happen on your doorstep," Jordan said. 

[READ: Information sheet on Lake Eustis barrier wall project]

News 6 contacted FDOT and sent the video to the agency. A spokesperson said immediately after that the department will do something about it. 

However, just four months later, in November, it happened again. 

An SUV taking a left turn onto Highway 441 lost control and again ripped right through the chain linked fence and into the lake. 

"Both times we were very lucky there was a bystander there to help out even before we got outside," Jordan said. 

Jordan credits News 6, the Tavares city manager and other citizens for also emailing their concerns to FDOT, because he said a traffic engineer did come out and saw the safety concern for himself. 

"They were very worried about not just the cars going into the lake but going into the building, and it's a miracle that didn't happen," Jordan said.

When Jordan pulled into work last week and saw the right lane of Highway 441 shut down for repairs, he was relieved. 

"Oh, I was jumping for joy," he said. "It's great we don't have to worry about it anymore."

Right now temporary barriers are up, while an FDOT spokesperson said the department plans to begin construction on permanent concrete barriers this week. 

And Jordan said FDOT took action at the perfect time, because just days after the temporary barriers were up, another car went out of control on the left turn. This time, though, the car bounced on the barrier and not into the lake.

"He was OK. He got out, checked out his car, got back in and drove off," he said. "It was definitely confirmation of how much this was needed and it was just in the nick of time."

The project is one of many projects in the district included under a larger contract that's expected to cost $142,828. It has a tentative completion date for May 3. 

"Thanks for getting results for us and we now have one less thing to worry about here at The Fish Camp," he said.