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Ten-year mobility plan moves forward with big changes

A plan to ease traffic issues and make Oviedo more friendly for non-car transportation is moving ahead, but not without some major potential changes.

The city’s 10-year mobility plan, introduced in August, was adopted by the City Council on a 3-2 vote Monday, despite concerns about multiple key parts.

A new addition to the plan, developed by VHB, the city’s engineering consultant, is a proposed Alafaya Woods Boulevard road diet, which is still in its concept phase.

The road diet, expected to extend from State Road 434 to East Mitchell Hammock Road, would convert the current four-lane road to a two-lane road with turn lanes in the center and on-street bicycle lanes on either side. 

With the goal of “improving safety, calming traffic, providing better mobility and access for all road users, and [enhancing] overall quality of life,” according to the proposal, the road diet would repurpose the same amount of pavement and re-stripe the road.

Councilwoman Natalie Teuchert, who lives in Alafaya Woods, shared concerns about safety regarding the bicycle lanes remaining on the road, rather than separating them with a median or other barrier in between.

“There is a school in the neighborhood, which is why I’m kind of laughing that we’re putting these bike lanes in the road,” Teuchert said. “The whole point [of the road diet project] was to get the bike lanes out of the roads so kids can get to school safer. 

“There are people who live in the neighborhood who drive their kids to school because we have such a hard time with people speeding and cutting off the crosswalk,” she added. “I do know that’s where that project came from — it was a safety thing — and this does not cover any of that.”

To alleviate safety concerns, treatment options such as painting the bicycle lanes green or adding plastic vertical posts, also known as bollards, in between the road and lane are under consideration. The road diet is projected to cost an estimated $2.3 million if it moves forward.

“This [plan] would maintain the curbs, so you would not have to reconstruct the road,” said Curtis M. Ostrodka, VHB’s director of smart communities. “Some cyclists prefer to ride on-street, some prefer to ride off-street.

“We’ve also found, in traffic studies that VHB has done, many times, four-lane roads actually operate inefficiently because you don’t have a turning lane in the middle because cars end up blocking that interior lane,” he said. “A roadway configuration like [the road diet] can actually provide a little bit more utilization for the road.”

Before any designs are finalized, the community will need to be engaged on the plans for feedback about mobility in the affected areas.

“It’s a step in the right direction if it moves cars faster, too, and gets the bikes out of the car lines,” Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek said.

Additionally, following objections regarding safety from Council members and on recommendation of Public Works Director Bobby Wyatt, the proposed shared lane markings along Oviedo Boulevard, which would have added bicycle stamps to the pavement as visual indicators of a shared lane, were removed from the overall plan.

“We looked at many different alternatives,” Ostrodka said. “This was just not a project that [Wyatt] thought would provide a lot of benefit overall to the community.”

Other mobility plan projects

An update to the proposed autonomous vehicle circulator that would connect Oviedo on the Park and the historic downtown, with a future plan to connect it to the Oviedo Mall, included a possible switch to a rubber-tire circulator system instead. Council members previously expressed skepticism of adding an AV circulator, both due to the cost and functionality limitations.

“I don’t recall any of us really being high on the circulator,” Councilman Keith Britton said. “The fact that a person could walk as far as fast as they would be taken in the [AV circulator] if you had to wait 15 minutes.”

Teuchert put it more bluntly: “[It] was too slow and expensive to consider.”

The alternative proposed is a “small bus that looks like a trolley,” City Manager Bryan Cobb said. “Obviously those vehicles can move at greater speed.”

The estimated cost for the AV circulator would have been about $20,000 per month, compared to the City of Sanford’s trolley system costing about $14,000 per month, Ostrodka said.

In the plan, a mobility hub at City Hall was moved to Oviedo on the Park, with the one already planned for the Oviedo Mall remaining, Ostrodka said. 

Due to environmental impact concerns and the ability to actually create a road through other privately owned properties, the plan to connect Oviedo Medical Drive to Winter Springs Boulevard was removed.

The projects in the 10-year mobility plan “may be funded through a combination of City of Oviedo General Funds, the existing Transportation Impact Fund, and the Local Option Gas Sales Tax,” according to the proposal. 

Following the resolution’s approval, it now heads to MetroPlan Orlando’s Municipal Advisory Committee before it can be finalized. Having projects in the plan helps them to become a priority for possible regional or state funding. It also helps the city negotiate with developers to fund projects in potential public-private partnerships. 

You can view the entire plan here, and watch the Dec. 5 City Council meeting below.

News and notes

  • Through the consent agenda, the Council adopted a resolution for the city to apply for an African-American Cultural and Historical Grant of up to $500,000 for improvements to Round Lake Park, and to “approve a Low-Income Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) Vendor Payment Agreement with the City of Sanford.”
  • Three Council members — Bob Pollack, Jeff Boddiford and Keith Britton — were sworn in after winning an election in which they were uncontested, taking their oaths of office surrounded by family. Boddiford was elected presiding officer, meaning he’ll run the meetings, as well as deputy mayor by the Council.
  • Master Police Officer David Capetillo was honored in a resolution on his upcoming retirement after more than 26 years in service to the city of Oviedo while being surrounded by more than 20 members of Oviedo law enforcement. Capetillo, who stepped down as a lieutenant to become a K-9 officer in 2008, worked with three dogs in 14 years. Capetillo’s K-9 companion Duke is also retiring, and the $1 purchase of Duke by Capetillo was approved by the council.

Master Police Officer David Capetillo is retiring after more than 26 years with the Oviedo Police Department. Photo by Eric Orvieto.

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