Citing “buyer’s remorse” Winter Springs is quickly considering an about face on recently dropping the speed limit on one of the city’s main roads from 30 mph down to 25 mph.
“I haven’t heard one positive comment,” Deputy Mayor Rob Elliott said during an Aug. 14 City Commission meeting of the city’s attempt to reduce speeders along the three-mile stretch of road spanning the entirety of the Tuscawilla neighborhood and connecting Tuskawilla Road to the city’s eastern border with Oviedo.
That reduction in speed limit, which came quickly at a meeting March 13, came from a unanimous vote by the City Commission. It also accompanied a suite of additional changes to the road in order to reduce traffic speeds and improve safety, including raised walkways at intersections and wider bicycle lanes while narrowing traffic lanes. But it was the lowered speed limit that drew the ire of residents.
“I got beat up pretty good because of this,” Commissioner Ted Johnson said, referencing social media posts which called him out specifically despite all four Commissioners present for the vote voting in favor of the change. Commissioner Cade Resnick was absent from that March meeting.
Police Chief Matt Tracht, who had recommended the non-speed-limit related changes that accompanied the speed change said that the data is still coming in, but that there are still speeding complaints along the road. In March he recommended that the city not consider reducing the speed limit until after all the other traffic calming measures were in place to see their effectiveness.
“Has it totally gotten rid of speeding? No,” Tracht said.
Tracht said the city hadn’t yet done a traffic study to determine how fast traffic is flowing after the change.
Johnson said that, despite some controversy regarding whether the city required a DOT-code satisfying traffic study to justify reducing the speed limit, that “because of the nature of the road we didn’t need to have a study.”
Regardless of the future outcome of a traffic study that has yet to be performed, the Commission is already preparing to revisit the subject, with Johnson requesting the issue be put back on the agenda for the upcoming Aug. 28 meeting.
Other traffic concerns
Talk of speeding cars on Winter Springs Boulevard fed into more worries from Commissioners about a development in the works just to the east of Winter Springs city limits in Oviedo, with Winter Springs potentially still holding the last card to play.
The proposed development, currently named Sugarmill Apartments, would develop a swath of land north of the Oviedo Mall but south of Winter Springs Boulevard into a 557-unit apartment complex, with the potential to dump traffic directly onto Winter Springs Boulevard. That means much more traffic heading through the Tuscawilla neighborhood, Elliott said.
“My guess is that potentially this would involve another 500 to 1,000 more vehicles probably getting onto Winter Springs Boulevard every day” Elliott said.
But there’s a way to block it, he added.
“At the present time the city of Winter Springs has a conservation easement that runs east and west through this entire property which would have to be removed in order to build any type of roadway or buildings on the property,” Elliott said, with a warning: “We will eventually be approached about this conservation easement.”
The developer of the project, Mayor Kevin McCann said, is the same who is currently attempting to build a controversial three-story storage facility on Tuskawilla Road.
McCann said that the Oviedo Mall in the past had already attempted to get a road built to Winter Springs Boulevard.
“Their vision of development is different than ours,” McCann said. “It will create a traffic nightmare.”
The city has not yet been formally requested to grant the easement.
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