OCALA, Fla. – If you are traveling through downtown Ocala, be prepared to stop. Digital signs are posted throughout the area, warning drivers while utility crews removed 10 traffic signals throughout downtown, most along North Magnolia Avenue that run through the Ocala Square.
Ocala city spokesperson Ashley Dobbs said engineers with the city conducted a traffic study that ended in October.
“The study went on for several months and what was determined, is that the traffic flow on the side streets, the volume was so low that it just didn’t warrant having traffic signals,” said Dobbs.
Utility crews removed 10 traffic lights and created 4-way stops with stop signs. Flashing lights were temporarily installed to warn drivers.
Some of the intersections impacted include:
- Fort King and South Magnolia – stop signs will be in place for southbound, eastbound and westbound traffic.
- Broadway and South Magnolia – stop signs will be in place for southbound and eastbound traffic.
- NW/NE Third St. and North Magnolia – stop signs will be in place for southbound, eastbound, and westbound traffic.
- NE Third St. and NE First Ave. – stop signs will be in place for northbound, eastbound, and westbound traffic.
While the city said the decision was made to make the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly, some people think the holiday season wasn’t the best time to make the change.
“I think it may congest it a little more than it did prior with the lights. Notably, at four-way stops people don’t always pay attention to who gets there first,” said Connie Rimes, of Ocala. “Since people will be visiting more and walking with the Christmas lights up, I think it will be more dangerous for the public.”
Others said they are already seeing improvements on the road.
“I think traffic flows better and I think when people come here into the Square, they’re not in a big hurry. I don’t think it’s a safety issue. I think people are more than happy to allow pedestrians to proceed,” said Janiene DeCecco.
As part of the project, the city also reduced a part of Magnolia Avenue from two to one lane, adding extra on-street parking. The city wants drivers and pedestrians to be more vigilant downtown until they get more familiar with the new traffic patterns.
The temporary lights are activated and will be flashing for the next three months, then will be removed according to the city. Only stop signs will remain for approaching motorists.