3 years after Orange Avenue speeding study, Winter Park residents still waiting for results

Construction on first of two projects slated for 2024

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Three years after the Florida Department of Transportation released a study aimed at reducing speeding on North Orange Avenue near Winter Park, no construction has started and the state is still waiting for partial funding, according to a News 6 investigation.

Residents who live along North Orange Avenue in the Orwin Manor neighborhood of Orlando have long complained about drivers traveling at excessive speed.

“It’s frustrating,” said resident Garick Spears.

Spears has shared video and pictures of crashes that have happened in front of his home.

One of them happened on New Year’s Eve, 2017. A car driven by two women was T-boned by a driver travelling 128 mph. They were killed, and the driver, Justin Fonner, was sentenced to 21 years in prison last Friday.

Two years later, FDOT released the results of a study conducted on the section of North Orange Avenue that stretches from Clay Avenue to Orlando Avenue.

It recommended a reduction in lanes and a roundabout at the intersection of Clay Avenue and North Orange Avenue, but no dirt has been turned on either project.

“We know that a project does take a little bit longer,” said Jessica Ottaviano, FDOT District 5 spokeswoman.

Ottaviano said the recommendations in the study have now been split into two separate projects.

One will reduce North Orange Avenue to one lane traveling in each direction between Orlando Avenue and Clay Avenue, with a turn lane in the center.

An FDOT study shows the proposed reduction of lanes along North Orange Ave. in Winter Park. (Courtesy: FDOT) (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

“Oftentimes, we can design certain things within our designs that actually slow people down, and sometimes that’s anything from tree canopies to just kind of making people feel like they need to go a slower speed because the road is smaller,” she said.

The lane reduction project, costing $1.5 million, is currently in the design phase, Ottaviano said, and construction is tentatively set to begin in 2024.

The second project, the roundabout, has been funded for design, but not for construction, which is estimated at $1.8 million.

An FDOT study shows the proposed roundabout slated for the intersection of North Orange Ave. and Clay Ave. (Courtesy: FDOT) (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Public comment for both projects is currently open online, with public in-person meetings scheduled for this summer.

But many residents who live nearby have expressed concern that the projects are not moving fast enough.

“We understand when people want to see a big change, and to do that big change is going to take some thorough reviews, making sure we’re doing the right thing,” she said. “We’re trying to do some interim work to help in the meantime with speed feedback signs, and we have to work very closely with law enforcement so that drivers are adhering to the proper speeds that are out there.”

Speed remains an issue.

News 6 Traffic Safety Expert Trooper Steve Montiero clocks how fast drivers are traveling on North Orange Ave. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

News 6 Traffic Safety Expert Trooper Steve Montiero used a police-certified laser gun to clock how fast drivers were traveling.

He said on average, cars were moving 10-to-15 mph over the speed limit of 35 mph, however, he tracked two drivers who were going more than 50 mph.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.