ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation unveiled two projects Thursday night that it said will help reduce crashes along a stretch of Orange Avenue, between Clay Avenue and Orlando Avenue.
A resident who has lived in the area for years, Stephen Pategas, said of the projects, “I think they nailed it.” He added, “I mean, they listened. We had a neighborhood meeting. We had FDOT there.”
Orange Avenue is known by residents as a spot where cars tend to drive fast — very fast.
“The speeding is the worst. I mean, there’s traffic everywhere, but the speeding is really intense, and here, everybody just hits the gas when they get to that stretch,” said Pategas.
Another resident, Michael Spencer, told News 6, “As it exists, it’s a speedway. A lot of nights and weekends, traffic is going really quickly.”
The FDOT projects include placing a roundabout at the intersection of State Road 527, Clay Ave., and Orange Avenue.
It also includes a lane reduction a Long Orange Avenue, from two lanes in either direction, down to one, with a turn lane and bike paths.
The plan also has a pedestrian crosswalk with rapidly flashing beacons.
Spencer has lived in the area for years and remembers the fatal crash that happened on New Year’s Eve in 2017.
Police said 28-year-old Justin Fonner was driving more than 120 mph when he T-boned Geena Pabarue and Keisha Perales as they were backing out of a home along Orange Avenue, killing them.
“My daughter and I actually had just returned from a walk 15 minutes prior, and had we been down there, we would’ve been in the debris field,” said Spencer.
Neighbors worked with legislators, including holding a meeting with Anna Eskamani in 2019, to address the traffic concerns.
According to documents, the lane repurposing project is funded and construction is expected to start in the fall of 2023. However, the roundabout project is not yet funded.