Still no flashing light, guardrail at troubled 408 off-ramp, but are they the answer?

Christian Bodden died in January at this exit

ORLANDO, Fla. – News 6 checked up on a troubled east Orange County off-ramp and discovered some of the safety measures that the county had proposed, including a flashing light, are still not there.

Two drivers have died at the Alafaya Trail exit on S.R. 408, the most recent one after a crash in January where the driver veered into the retention pond.

Both drivers missed the turn onto Alafaya Trail and ended up rolling through the intersection, over the sidewalk on Alafaya, and down into the pond.

Orange County Public Works installed several more yellow reflectors at the intersection but no flashing beacon.

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News 6 reported in February that Public Works had planned to install additional reflectors and a flashing beacon: Why not?

Orange County spokesperson Darrell Moody explained that engineers determined a flashing beacon would “conflict with existing traffic signal messaging, so it is not an appropriate application at this intersection.”

A flashing beacon would have become a fifth traffic signal at an already signal-heavy intersection — there are four existing traffic lights for the four lanes of traffic at the off-ramp to direct drivers onto Alafaya Trail.

But what about a guardrail?

A barrier likely would have helped prevent Christian Bodden from ending up in the pond on Jan. 30 and losing his life. A fundraiser for his family has now raised almost $3,000.

And a barrier would likely have helped prevent Chloe Arenas from drowning in the same retention pond 8 years earlier.

But Moody said before it can install any guardrail, engineers must research the “applicability” and “liability” of a car slamming into a barrier placed at the bottom of this intersection.

“As for the guardrail, traffic engineering is still researching the applicability and liability of a direct impact by a vehicle,” Moody said. “The specific function of a guardrail is to redirect traffic away from the hazardous condition, not to stop direct impacts.”

Moody said Public Works engineers continue looking into “other potential countermeasures.”

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About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.