FDOT and the city are working on improvements.
It’s a little bit of NASCAR in Ormond Beach, with an anything-goes attitude. The stretch of North Nova Road between Sterthaus Drive and Wilmette Avenue has three lanes going in each direction, with a turn lane in the middle. There are no medians, and people can veer into the turn lane to turn left or right at any point.
It’s also a place for pedestrians for play “Frogger” crossing the road. There’s Avante, a skilled nursing facility, and Shadow Lake Apartments on the east side while on the west side is The Trails Shopping Center. Plus, the Ormond Renaissance Condominium is being built on Sterthaus Drive.
The city and FDOT, in a years-long project, has sought answers for the problem, and a local resident is adamant about getting something done after witnessing an accident.
STUDIES AND MORE STUDIES
In 2016, the Florida Department of Transportation determined the area to be dangerous after observing pedestrians standing in the middle turn lane, waiting for traffic to clear. A meeting was held on Oct. 27, 2016 between FDOT, the city of Ormond Beach and the public to provide input on ideas to improve safety. FDOT presented two median proposals, one with a median with openings only at intersections, and the other with openings for left turns into businesses. The medians would have refuge areas for pedestrians to wait until traffic clears and would be cut out for wheelchairs.
The FDOT representatives said people do not walk to the lights at Granada Boulevard and Sterthaus Avenue to cross the road. It's almost a half-mile between intersections.
The city was hoping for input from businesses and the public at the meeting, but there was a very light turnout. There was, however, a person who had recently witnessed a person in a wheelchair getting hit by a car.
“It was horrific,” she said.
Any solutions will not be coming in the near future. FDOT is just now starting a brand-new study.
City Manager Joyce Shanahan said neither of the median proposals was feasible, and the city asked FDOT to go back to the drawing board and add marked crosswalks. She said turnover at FDOT was part of the reason for the delay. The FDOT engineer who led the 2016 meeting is no longer with the agency.
“We lit a fire under them a few months ago,” she said. “We need a safer way to cross Nova Road. We’ve been concerned about it for a while.”
FDOT spokesman Steve Olson said in an email that a work order was issued recently by FDOT to update the study. He said the study is just getting started so he could not give a timeline or the next step.
Shanahan is hopeful that road improvements can be made by the time the new Publix opens, which would be near the end of 2020. The current Publix will be torn down at the end of this year and a new one built in about a year’s time.
There were about 78 traffic incidents in the past two years in that vicinity, according to Ormond Beach police, and one incident involving a car and a pedestrian.
CROSSWALKS AND LIGHTS
It was a horrendous sound. Cathy Wharton heard the impact of the crash March 22 when a motorcycle rider from Canada died in an accident with an SUV.
People came out of buildings in the area to witness a horrible scene, she said. She is now adamant about getting something done, not only for drivers, but for pedestrians.
“I can’t let it slide. It was a senseless tragedy,” she said.
Wharton spoke about her concerns at an informational meeting on April 8 about the planned Publix renovation.
She said she’d like to see a crosswalk with a flashing light or, better yet, a stop light at Old Kings Road.
At the 2016 FDOT meeting, the representatives said that Nova Road does not qualify for a pedestrian crossing with flashing lights like the one at Grind Gastropub on West Granada Boulevard because it has three lanes in each direction. FDOT only installs pedestrian crossings on roads with two lanes in each direction, for pedestrian safety.
Also at the 2016 meeting, FDOT said the traffic count at Old Kings Road and North Nova Road did not warrant a stop light, but the Renaissance condo being constructed could change traffic count enough so it would quality. One local resident at the meeting said he wouldn’t want to stop at a stoplight at Old Kings Road after getting through the light at Granada Boulevard.
Wharton also asked why a stop light could be installed at the Granada Pointe development and not Old Kings Road.
Olson was contacted to find the answer. He said the signal at West Granada Boulevard and Tomoka Avenue was warranted by a Traffic Impact Analysis for Granada Pointe submitted with the permit in 2016 that included the realignment of Tomoka Avenue, as well as construction of the Wawa and other businesses.
“I can’t let it slide. It was a senseless tragedy.”
CATHY WHARTON, accident witness