Winter Springs traffic woes spark potential study

A comment from a former Winter Springs city commissioner about a car that crashed into his yard “at very high speed” on May 23 turned into a discussion about fixing Winter Springs’ traffic problems as a whole that same day.

At the May 23 Winter Springs City Commission meeting former Commissioner Robert Miller said that he’d been trying to get the city’s attention about traffic cutting through between the Ranchlands neighborhood and S.R. 434, and possibly installing speed bumps or other traffic-calming measures to stop them. Monday morning it was police trying to get his attention, as they knocked on his door at 8 a.m., he said, to tell him there was a car in a ditch in his front yard that was wrecked too badly to drive away.
“Why is it that I’ve never been able to get anything but a negative reply with regard to speed bumps, speed humps?” he asked commissioners and staff, after repeatedly asking the Commission to fix speeding problems in his neighborhood. “I say look around, everybody around you has got speed bumps, speed humps. Seriously consider that, speed humps, speed bumps. They’re a lot cheaper than these very fancy proposals you’ve had. You can accomplish all this traffic calming with less than one-tenth the cost.”
Deputy Mayor Kevin Cannon agreed that cut-throughs and speeding in the city are a problem, citing phone calls he’s received.
“The No. 1 complaint I hear from residents is the amount of traffic going through the neighborhoods, going through the cut-throughs,” Cannon said. “It’s not just the speed, but it’s also the volume of the traffic. But speed is obviously a factor. It’s a quality-of-life thing.”
An official motion to direct city staff to study more specifically how the city could cut down on traffic issues and possibly curb neighborhood cut-throughs and speeders evolved into a hybrid discussion about a change to the city’s comprehensive plan in 2010 that exempted much of the city from having to consider traffic when deciding on new development projects.
“I don’t like having my hands tied as we have had for over 10 years, 12 years, that we can’t take into consideration the number of vehicles coming out of a project or increase in traffic that comes from a project,” Cannon said.
“You’re asking for a pretty significant undertaking,” City Attorney Anthony Garganese said of the direction to have staff and contracted traffic engineering firms evaluate traffic and possible future development factors citywide. 
Cannon said that he worries that changes and updates to traffic are happening too late to get ahead of problems.
“The problem that this state finds itself in is many of the jurisdictions, by the time the development is built, they’re 3-5 years behind the timeline to expand the road capacities,” he said. “I see that everywhere. I see that on 434. Almost eight years ago I pushed to have them four-lane 434 from the 417 into Oviedo, and it’s been almost eight years now, and we still have two lanes. We don’t have roundabouts yet.”
Mayor Kevin McCann agreed that traffic concerns were “definitely the top three” topics of calls he receives from residents.
“We’ve gotta get serious on this traffic,” Cannon said. “It’s not going to fix itself, and especially it’s not going to fix itself if we continue under this 2010 transportation concurrency exception area which means we’re not even considering traffic counts … when a project comes to us.”
The city is in the middle of revising elements of its comprehensive plan, which maps out the city’s expected growth and maintenance concerns and lays out plans for the future. The most recent revision of the transportation section of the comprehensive plan was in 2012. The city is also in the process of studying traffic on two of its main roads, Winter Springs Boulevard in the Tuscawilla neighborhood and Sheoah Road near the city’s police station.

Listen to the full meeting here:

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