FDOT safety study suggests adding roundabout on Orange Avenue in Winter Park

Improvements to cost almost $2M, FDOT study says

WINTER PARK, Fla. – State transportation officials released a study Thursday that includes safety improvements to Orange Avenue in Winter Park following hundreds of crashes along the corridor. 
The study focuses on a .8 mile stretch of Orange Avenue between Clay Avenue and US 17-92.
News 6 has covered crashes along that corridor for several years, including a fatal double crash that happened on New Year's Eve of 2017. FDOT's newly release report includes News 6's coverage of the deadly crash. 
Garrick Spears has lived in that area of Orange Avenue for two years. He said speeding is a big problem and he is waiting to see results. He hopes FDOT will fix the speeding issues. 

"We're looking for things that they can do today to help us with our safety," Spears said. 
According to the 128-page report, there were 203 crashes in the corridor between 2012 to 2016. 
The biggest change the state is proposing to that area is building a roundabout at the intersection of Clay Avenue, Orange Avenue and Wilkinson Street. FDOT also wants to reduce the number of lanes of the roadway from four lanes to two lanes with a center left turn lane. 
The state hopes these changes would reduce the number of crashes, but it will take time before any construction begins. FDOT said it needs to get funding and start the design process. There is no timeline for the long-term improvements.
"Any improvement, any attempts that the state or city makes we'll be happy with but we want to ask them to start today," Spears said. 
According to the study, the long-term solutions include:

  • Roundabouts were evaluated at the SR 527/Clay Avenue/Wilkinson Street intersection and at the SR 527/US 17/92 (Orlando Avenue)/Harmon Avenue intersection. A single-lane roundabout is recommended at the SR 527/Clay Avenue/Wilkinson Street intersection. However, two northbound lanes should be provided (one for left turns and one for the thru/right-turn movements).
  • Between the roundabout at Clay Avenue and SR 527/US 17/92 (Orlando Avenue)/Harmon Avenue intersection, the existing four-lane undivided roadway should be converted to a three-lane roadway consisting of two through lanes and a center two-way left-turn lane with dedicated bicycle lanes.
  • Construct a second northbound left-turn lane at SR 527/US 17/92 (Orlando Avenue)/Harmon Avenue intersection. 
  • Reconstruct the signal at the SR 527/US 17/92 (Orlando Avenue)/Harmon Avenue intersection with backplates and retroreflective borders. The existing diagonal span should be evaluated to identify if an additional signal head (for the additional northbound lane) and backplates can be added. However, because the signal appears to be at least 20 years old, rebuilding it is proposed.

The state hopes to make short term fixes within the next three months. The short term solutions include:

  • Install two merge warning signs (W4-2 and W9-2) southbound on SR 527 approaching the Clay Avenue/Wilkinson Street intersection.
  • Extend the northbound left-turn lane-drop markings at the SR 527/US 17/92 (Orlando Avenue)/Harmon Avenue intersection an additional 500 feet with two additional “Left Turn Must Turn Left” signs (R3-7).
  • Install contrast pavement markings for the crosswalk and stop bar markings at the SR 527/US 17/92 (Orlando Avenue)/Harmon Avenue intersection.
  • Install retroreflective tape on the existing backplates or replace the existing backplates with retroreflective backplates at the SR 527 and Clay Avenue/Wilkinson Street intersection.
  • Install pavement speed limit markings on SR 527 at the existing speed limit signs.

Spears said he's worried the short-term solutions won't stop speeders. 
"Additional signage and reiterating the speed limit that is already posted is not going to keep the people who want to speed from speeding," he said.

Spears is getting his own results. He's posting "Please slow down" signs in his yard. His neighbors are also posting the signs along Orange Avenue. Spears said his neighbors told him it appears the signs are working.
"They're saying they're seeing some cars are what it appears to be intentionally slowing down when they see the signs," Spears said. 
The improvements will cost the state almost $2 million. According to the report, the crashes reviewed during the study cost almost $900,000 worth of property damage. 
Spears said he is hopeful the state will make the improvements, but he's hesitant until he sees changes to the roadway. 
"It's going to take action on behalf of the state or the city for us to feel like there is truly intent to make this road safe," he said.