Westward growth could cause problems at intersection with Williamson, official say.
Only a handful of people showed up at the city’s half-cent sales tax meeting March 14 at the Ormond Beach Senior Center to give their opinion on transportation projects. Ironically, the roads jammed by Bike Week visitors may have kept many away.
One of those at the meeting, Tyrrel Dear, has lived in Ormond Beach since the 1950s and remembers when Granada Boulevard went no farther west than Nova Road. He marked his approval on several road widening projects and the Hand Avenue extension, although reluctantly.
“I hate to see traffic, but I’d rather see it moving than stopped,” he said.
Citizens were given the opportunity at the meeting to place red dots by road or clean water projects to show their preference to city leaders, who will eventually rank the projects in importance in case the sales tax increase passes and money becomes available. Ballots will be mailed to voters on May 1.
Preferences can be shown by residents on a city survey until March 31. The survey and descriptions of all of the potential projects can be found at www.ormondbeach.org.
City Manager Joyce Shanahan said many of the projects have been needed for years, but the city has never had money. Promoting the sales tax at the meeting, she said it would also be paid by tourists and all would stay in the county. The city and county would be partnering in the projects.
DOLLARS AND SENSE
The extension of Hand Avenue over Interstate 95 has been named a priority by the City Commission, but some say the projected figure of $24.8 million seems low, when compared to other projects. The study that resulted in the $24.8 million figure was done about five years ago, and a new study would need to be done, according to city staff.
Replacing the bridge on LPGA Boulevard over the Tomoka River has been estimated at $35 million.
The Hand Avenue extension over the freeway would need to cross the headwaters of the Tomoka River and this environmental factor would be part of the cost.
If an extension is built, the city, county, landowner and developer would all need to coordinate the project.
THE HAND AVENUE PROMISE
The main benefit of extending Hand Avenue to Tymber Creek Road is that it would take some load off Granada by providing an alternate route for the growing population west of the interstate.
“Thousands of people live west of the freeway,” City Commissioner Dwight Selby said at the meeting. “If going south, these residents can travel over the Hand Avenue extension, turn right, and never touch Granada Boulevard.”
Assistant City Engineer Shawn Finley agreed, saying a lot of cars from neighborhoods west of the freeway turn on Williamson, showing these cars could have taken the extension and avoided the intersection.
“If you’re in line with 500 cars, and you see only two turning, you might want to go that direction,” he said.
But city resident Connie Colby isn’t sure the extension will have the impact that some people think, because drivers will be travelling to the beachside, downtown or other Ormond Beach locations.
“That’s not solving the problem of traffic on Granada,” she said. “The heavy traffic is east of Williamson.”
She also fears the extension will make it easier for Daytona Beach residents to come into Ormond Beach.
Deanie Lowe, former Volusia County councilwoman, attended the meeting as a citizen, and strongly supported the extension. She pointed out that the bridge would also allow a way westward.
“If Hand is extended, I could get out to DeLand without traveling Granada,” she said.
NOT A TOTAL FIX
Hand Avenue travels through a neighborhood with two lanes east of Nova Road, and a driver, if going to beachside or downtown, would likely travel back to Granada.
The road through the neighborhood will never be widened, Finley said. When thinking of an alternative to Granada, Hand Avenue only serves from Williamson to Nova.
Selby agreed, saying Hand Avenue “is not a total fix for Granada traffic.”
Finley said the widening of Hand Avenue from Shangri-La Road to Williamson Boulevard is an important part of the strategy.
“It would have a cumulative effect,” he said.
Many people are already taking that part of Hand Avenue to avoid Granada traffic, Colby said, and it sometimes gets backed up between Nova Road and Clyde Morris.
BETTER TRAFFIC SIGNALS
The sales tax meeting only dealt with road and water issues, because that’s where sales tax revenue would go. But the Hand Avenue extension gets added emphasis when considering that it was listed as a top priority at a City Commission Strategic Planning meeting.
Jake Stehr, of Ormond Beach, did not mark Hand Avenue extension as a priority.
“I’d rather see emphasis on mass transportation and better biking and walking opportunities,” he said.
At the OB Life Transportation meeting on July 24, improved walking conditions beat out Hand Avenue extension, 17% to 14%.
Ranked number one at 30% was better traffic signal timing on Granada Boulevard, and that project is actually on its way to reality. The city has been waiting several yeas for FDOT to get around to implementing an adaptive signalization project for Granada Boulevard, and Finley said they are finally going to start July 1. The project, which will take a year to complete, will control the lights based on traffic conditions.
Lois Bollenback, executive director of River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization, has said that in the past that mass transportation should be part of the plan for traffic congestion.
“I hate to see traffic, but I’d rather see it moving than stopped.”
“If Hand is extended, I could get out to DeLand without traveling Granada.”
“I’d rather see emphasis on mass transportation and better biking and walking opportunities.”