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Ormond Beach Observer Friday, May 18, 2018 6 months ago

Hand Avenue extension project taken off TPO's long range transportation plan

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Ormond Beach city officials search for ways to relieve transportation woes.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

Despite the impending construction of 6,900 homes for the Latitude Margaritaville community threatening to worsen traffic on Granada Boulevard, Ormond Beach's only total east-to-west artery, the River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization removed the Hand Avenue extension project from its 2040 long range transportation plan, aiding the project's drop in priority to eighth place in the TPO's list. 

“So we’re in the middle of the pack," Assistant City Engineer Shawn Finley said. "There’s about 16, 17 [projects] that they have on their list.”

Finley updated city officials on the progress of this project and others at the City Commission transportation workshop on Tuesday, May 15. Finley said at the minimum, the city wants to make sure the Hand Avenue extension is put back in the TPO long range transportation plan. The city recently submitted a planning study application for the project, including possible widening of Hand Avenue from Shangri La Drive to Williamson Boulevard and the addition of a multi-use path along the road that will be in accordance with the city's master bicycle plan.

Finley said they will continue to feed the issue due to the increased traffic on Granada Boulevard and the Tymber Creek Road extension that will reach Margaritaville. 

“They’ve obviously heard that this is a priority to us," Finley said.

City Commissioner Dwight Selby suggested that in order to relieve Granada Boulevard of future Margaritaville traffic, the city should encourage Daytona Beach to build a bridge from LPGA Boulevard into the beachside. Some of the City Commissioners expressed frustration at dealing with a transportation problem caused by a community where homes will share Ormond Beach's zip code but are under the jurisdiction of Daytona Beach. 

City Commissioner Troy Kent said this was the result of decisions made by a different City Commission who "put their head in the sand" and refused to negotiate the annexation of the land into Ormond Beach.

"Then Ormond Beach could’ve been at the table instead of being served on the table," Kent said.

Pedestrian safety on A1A

The city also recently submitted a request to the Florida Department of Transportation to study an area spanning 1.25 miles on State Road A1A with the hopes of receiving three crosswalks in the near future between East Granada Boulevard and Cardinal Drive. The city is working with its legislative liaison to get this project funded through FDOT's Pushbutton Program. The five-lane area currently has beach access points but no crosswalks.

"Then Ormond Beach could’ve been at the table instead of being served on the table."

Troy Kent, Zone 2 City Commissioner

“These should be no-brainers," Finley said. "These are small projects. They should be able to be funded in a similar manner and not take the time that we have to do with some of the other DOT projects.”

The location of this project is in Kent's represented district, and he said safety is a top priority in this area. He said Ormond Beach has been excluded from funding for similar projects and that he was glad this was being addressed.

“It’s time for Ormond to get its fair share," Kent said.

City Commissioner Rick Boehm said Volusia County should be involved in this project. Though A1A is a state road, the county should at least partner with Ormond Beach to increase pedestrian safety, Boehm said.

“It’s their off-beach parking," Boehm said. "It’s their beach access approach. Why are they sitting on their hands saying, ‘that’s Ormond Beach’s problem?’"

Other transportation projects in the works

The city is also pushing FDOT to accelerate funding for a new I-95 interchange at U.S. 1, which was included in the TPO's 2040 long range transportation plan. In addition, safety improvements may soon be implemented at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Broadway Avenue. This is driven by FDOT's review requesting a modification to the median opening. 

Granada Boulevard is also set to receive adaptive signalization to avoid unnecessary long waits at stoplights when no opposing traffic is present. This is achieved with data-collecting traffic sensors that are meant to improve signal timing. FDOT has included three years of operational funds for this in their 2019 fiscal year budget.

Changes are also anticipated to come to the intersection of U.S. 1 and Wilmette Avenue due to an FDOT recommendation that protected left only turns be added to the stoplight. 

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