4/25/2016 – Ground Zero: Lockwood to N. Tanner on McCulloch: Level of Service (LOS) = “F”

I think it would be safe to say that the majority of people who live in East Orange County are fully against the crossing of the Econ at McCulloch.  There are two major reasons why: traffic and the environmental impact which are both equally important.

This post is focused on traffic and is titled “GROUND ZERO”.  GROUND ZERO is the stretch of McCulloch Road from Lockwood to N. Tanner including the intersection of McCulloch and N. Tanner which is the epicenter.  In my opinion based on the information I am providing in this video, Orange County is ill-prepared for this crossing and has not fully studied the effects of this bridge.  More time is needed to fully understand the impact this bridge and road will have on our community.

If Orange County pushes this bridge across, the long-term effects on traffic in this area will be very negative and very hard to reverse.

Watch my video to really understand the impact this bridge and the development will have on this area.

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4/14/2016 – Update on Community Meeting

This is an update on the Lake Pickett North Community Meeting. The meeting was well attended with almost all attendees in opposition to LPN. I think there were about 200 attendees. A resident asked for a show of hands from the people in favor and only about 5 or less raised their hands. Commissioner Edwards is faced with a very tough decision. I believe Commissioner Edwards is weighing a choice between future growth that is coming based on many estimates and the rights of property owners who are already in the area.

Next week the Planning and Zoning hearing for LPN begins at 1 pm. This is moving at light speed. Here’s the link to the meeting on the Orange County calendar. The meeting starts at 9 am but Lake Pickett North will not be heard until 1 pm.

http://www.orangecountyfl.net/Home/CountyCalendar.aspx…

I am opposed to the density of the development and the traffic it will bring causing our roads to fail. I have yet to hear how this solution is good for the area long term.

While I do think that the property should be developed in some way as I think most know is likely, I think the density is to high and will over-burden the infrastructure. Why would we 4 lane McCulloch and fix the traffic issues on that road only to break it again with this bridge and 1,999 homes now leaving us with no solution. That makes no sense to me. The intersection of N. Tanner and McCulloch will bear the burden of not one stream of traffic but three.

This is a rural area and is that way for a reason. I am reading a very intense environmental plan called the “Econolockhatchee River Basin Natural Resource and Development Plan” that was requested by St. Johns River and was put together by scientists and biologists from the University of Florida in 1990. I can’t say enough about this plan. Every word is gold. The takeaway from this plan is that they predicted what is happening now and strongly warned against it. Read the plan here.

http://savetheecon.com/…/04/October-1990-Protection-Plan.pdf

Orange County, please don’t do this because you think this area must be developed to accommodate growth. Find other ways inside the Urban Service Area to remake old neighborhoods for growth and leave this area alone. Tired strip malls and building are crying for a make-over. Take the example from the apartments on the north side of University at Alafaya. A tired old strip mall turned into a 3 story apartment complex inside the USA. That should be the focus going forward, not developing new sprawl on undeveloped land where wildlife will certainly be displaced and our streams, springs, lakes and the Econ River will be polluted.

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4/6/2016 – Letter to Orange County regard bridge and Lake Pickett North

 

From: rj@fixmyroadway.com [mailto:rj@fixmyroadway.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 7:46 PM
To: ‘mayor@ocfl.net’ <mayor@ocfl.net>; ‘district1@ocfl.net’ <district1@ocfl.net>; ‘district2@ocfl.net’ <district2@ocfl.net>; ‘district3@ocfl.net’ <district3@ocfl.net>; ‘jennifer thompson’ <district4@ocfl.net>; ‘district6@ocfl.net’ <district6@ocfl.net>; ‘Chris.Testerman@ocfl.net’ <Chris.Testerman@ocfl.net>; ‘Jon.Weiss@ocfl.net’ <Jon.Weiss@ocfl.net>; ‘Alberto.Vargas@ocfl.net’ <Alberto.Vargas@ocfl.net>; ‘Janna.Souvorova@ocfl.net’ <Janna.Souvorova@ocfl.net>; ‘Blanche.Hardy@ocfl.net’ <Blanche.Hardy@ocfl.net>; ‘Renzo.Nastasi@ocfl.net’ <Renzo.Nastasi@ocfl.net>; Olan Hill (Olan.Hill@ocfl.net) <Olan.Hill@ocfl.net>; ‘district5@ocfl.net’ <district5@ocfl.net>; ‘Mirna.Barq@ocfl.net’ <Mirna.Barq@ocfl.net>; ‘Jennifer.Thompson@ocfl.net’ <Jennifer.Thompson@ocfl.net>
Subject: I must object to the process for Lake Pickett North as well as the project itself

Mayor Jacobs, Commissioner Edwards and Orange County staff,

I must respectfully object to the process for the Lake Pickett North development application and how it is being moved forward at light speed.  It was also a complete surprising seeing the plans for “Sustany” showing a bridge across the Econ at McCulloch and the road going from the northwest corner to the southeast corner of the Rybolt property.  I cannot understand how this road is going to solve any traffic issues and in fact I believe it will make traffic worse after reviewing the most recent LOS traffic study numbers for LPN.  To me it looks like that section of road that is now an “F” will remain an “F”.

Raod through Sustany over the Econ to McCulloch

Raod through Sustany over the Econ to McCulloch

 

On Saturday, April 2nd, I received a notice (http://fixmyroadway.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/2016-1-A-5-1-Lake-Pickett-North-Sustany-Community-Meeting-Notice.pdf) in the mail dated 3/31/2016 announcing only one community meeting for this project (LPN) that is now back in the application process.  The meeting is to be held in less than 2 weeks on April 13th.  Why is there only one meeting while in the past there have been three meetings for projects of this magnitude?  I have also heard through the grapevine that LPN submitted their application months ago.   When was the LPN application re-submitted?  I would like to make a formal request for the LPN application documents?  I was referred to this ftp site but the documents are outdated especially the traffic study as I have seen a new one that is not posted on this ftp site.  ftp://ftp.onetgov.net/divisions/Growth_Management/pub/POD/LPN_ApplicationMaterials/  The study I was finally able to get is dated March 2016.  Shouldn’t the latest information be available on this site?

I have many reason as to why I am opposed to this project and the haste in which this is being pushed through:

  • Short posting – my notice came on April 2nd, just 11 days before the public hearing on April 13th.  This is not enough time to request documents, study them and understand an application of this size.  The LPA meeting is scheduled for just one week after and the BCC transmittal hearing in June.  How can Orange County possibly think the public can react and absorb this information in such a short period of time?
  • Why is this being done so fast?  It appears as though Orange County waited until the last possible moment to send out this notification and made the timeline as short as possible.
  • Why is there only one community meeting on a project of this magnitude?  In the past there have been 3.  I understand this is a continuation but it is a very large project with a very substantial change in infrastructure.
  • Traffic:
    • How will crossing the Econ and bringing 1000+ peak hour trips across a bridge only to bottleneck into S. Tanner and McCulloch going to solve any traffic problems?
    • McCulloch is already a terribly bad “F” rated road according to your LOS ratings.  If I understand the numbers correctly, McCulloch is a two lane road and has 1,300 trips making it a disastrous “F” as I understand anything over 880 trips is an “F”.  If it is 4-laned a “F” is 2,000 trips so it is already on it’s way to a 4-lane “F”.  Add 1,000 trips from LPN and it goes to 2,300 trips and then don’t forget traffic from LPS which will come up N. Tanner further increasing those numbers as well as traffic from the Seminole County in the north.  How is a bridge bringing 1,000+ trips over to the intersection of N. Tanner and McCulloch going to solve our traffic problems?
      Lockwood to McCulloch LOS

      Lockwood to McCulloch LOS

      LPN percentage traffic on McCulloch

      LPN percentage traffic on McCulloch

    • Orange County is spending $350,000 of INVEST money on a traffic study being conducted right now.  How is the cost of this traffic study justified to the taxpayers if a bridge is being pushed long before the traffic study is complete and may show different more efficient options?  Are we about to waste taxpayer money?
    • MetroPlan is conducting a traffic study of this area.  How does this traffic study fit into this plan?
    • Lake Pickett South’s traffic study is outdated and is from 2015.  The last traffic study showed no roads exiting onto Lake Pickett and consequently very little traffic on Lake Pickett, 3% if I remember.  Now there are four roads exiting onto Lake Pickett so trip percentages will change dramatically and that percentage will go up.  Has a new traffic study been done for LPS with the 4 roads existing onto Lake Pickett and if so I would like to request the document?  Isn’t it required that traffic studies must be current?  How will this change in LPS affect McCulloch?
    • Why aren’t the connectivity issues inside the Urban Service Area (USA) being addressed before this bridge?
    • Why isn’t the Richard Crotty Parkway at the top of the list which in my opinion will do more to address our traffic issues than any other fix in this area?  If any road should be built and 4-laned that is the first one that should be done.  It is only one mile long and will connect to Research Parkway which is already 4-lane.  The path is straight and clear running down a utility easement with no houses in the path.  The cost could not be more than 10 million.  Orange County needs to work with Research Park to get the Richard Crotty built.  The Richard Crotty is already on the long range transportation plan and should be considered first as McCulloch is on the constraint list and will require a text amendment to change its designation.
    • I have heard that UCF has already given 10 million for the Richard Crotty project a long time ago, is this true?Richard Crotty Parkway 
    • Why is right-of-way being asked of the developers on Lake Pickett and S. Tanner if not to 4-lane these somewhere in the future?  What are the future plans for Lake Pickett?
    • What is the fate of University Estates if this road is put through?
    • How will University Estates residents exit onto a 4 lane roadway?
    • Will McCulloch be 4-laned?
    • Is there enough room for a 4-lane road on McCulloch that includes turn lanes into University Estates and Madison Park?
    • Won’t Orange County need Seminole County approval to cross the Econ and 4-lane McCulloch?
    • Will the wall along University Estates be taken through eminent domain?
    • Where is the exact county line running down McCulloch?  Is it down the middle of the road?
    • McCulloch is on the constraint list and will require a text amendment to allow for this crossing.  When will this occur?
  • Environmental Impact:
    • The Econ Basin is environmentally sensitive as explained in this report done in 1990.  This report was produced for St. Johns River Management.  Are we going to abandon an environmentally sensitive area so development can continue its easterly push?  http://savetheecon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/October-1990-Protection-Plan.pdf
    • I have heard that there can only be one more crossing of the Econ, is this true?
  • Density:
    • I think if there was one item that resonated loud and clear was that the density was too high.  I remember Commissioner Clarke speaking about a community more along the lines of Wedgefield and others expressing their objections to density and voicing similar concerns over density.
    • The location of this property being so close to the Econ and inside the Econ River Basin does not support density of this magnitude.  Traffic is an issue but the environmental impact should be carefully considered.
  • Multi-modal transportation options:
    • The developers for LPS and LPN have stated that these communities will serve UCF and Research Park.  Shouldn’t these communities be built specifically with that in mind with transportation options required such as buses, bike lanes, car pooling and any other options that will bring down the trip count?
  • Promised made:
    • We cannot discount the importance of promises made years ago.  Crossing the Econ like this was never in the long range plans.

These are not rhetorical questions and I am looking for answers.  I would like to understand what Orange County has planned and how it will address all of the issues listed above. While I am very concerned about traffic, as my knowledge of this area grows I have an equal concern for the environmental impact of big development.  Every inch of concrete poured means more water runs off into the storm drains and pollutes the streams, lakes and rivers and in this case the Econ River.  This means less water can filter down into the aquifer that supports our very lives.  Presently 800,000 gallons of water is pumped from the aquifer daily with a maximum capacity of 850,000 gallons.  A level past that will begin to cause damage to our environment.  It is a cascade effect.  We must preserve our most precious resource and do development differently especially in the Econ River Basin.  Status Quo development is really not acceptable.

I have always tried my best to support Orange County and the decisions my elected officials and staff make.  Please do not take my email as anything other than expressing my opinion and how I feel about this project and my attempt to ask you to think more about this.  Please pause and consider the entire region when making decisions that will impact all of us for years to come.    I sincerely believe that a bridge across the Econ is not the answer at this time.

Sincerely,

RJ Mueller

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wag the dog

4/8/2016 – Is the tail wagging the dog?

I was thinking about the idea of building a bridge over the Econ and the massive amount of additional traffic this will bring and decided to write this blog.  I am going to talk specifically about “GROUND ZERO” (Lockwood to N. Tanner on McCulloch).  This is by no means an isolated case.  This happens county wide and explains how development is in control of infrastructure in many cases.

Ground Zero - Lockwood to N. Tanner on McCulloch

Ground Zero – Lockwood to N. Tanner on McCulloch

How should the county handle GROUND ZERO? (in my opinion)

We know the stretch of road is bad.  We see it every day.  It is rated an “F” on Level Of Service (LOS) rating with 1,300 trips.  That is a really bad “F” as shown in the diagram below.

Lockwood to McCulloch LOS

Lockwood to McCulloch LOS

Orange County is required to maintain an acceptable LOS (Level of Service).  This is only my opinion but I think what should happen is Orange County should look at this roadway and do a study to determine the best way to bring the LOS rating up to an acceptable level.  For example, perhaps widen GROUND ZERO to 4 lanes.  An “F” rating for a 4 lane road is 2,000 trips so by doing that, the road would be at an acceptable level as 1,300 is well below 2,000.  There are complications to 4 laning McCulloch that need to be sorted out and personally I am not too excited about the idea because I live on McCulloch and I am not sure how this would work.  Many questions need to be answered with the most obvious being is there enough room to build a 4 lane road.  I think Seminole County would have to be involved in the decision and as far as I know they are not on board.  Also, there are other options that are better and should be considered first.

What is a better option?  Orange County could find a way to divert traffic off of McCulloch onto other roadways to reduce the trips such as add the Richard Crotty Parkway as shown below.  Most of the traffic that comes onto McCulloch in the morning flows up N. Tanner.  We know that a good portion of this traffic is directly related to UCF and Research Park.  By adding this roadway, traffic will be diverted into UCF and Research Park reducing the trips on McCulloch and will most likely bring it into an acceptable LOS which is down below 880 trips.  But a traffic study would have to be done to determine if that is the case.

In either case, this does not include any development or a bridge across the Econ.  

But this is NOT reality or even possible given the way Orange County operates.  Read on ….

Richard Crotty Parkway

 

What is reality and how this works in Orange County?

In the case of GROUND ZERO, here’s how it works.  Refer to the concept plan below.  A landowner bought the Rybolt land in the hope they could re-zone the land and develop the property at a much higher density than it is zoned  now.  But the developer knows there will be resistance from residents so they have to find a way to overcome the resistance and in this case the developer is contributing money called “proportional share” to help “fix” roads thereby partnering with Orange County.  This entices Orange County to favor the development in addition to the perceived tax revenue it will gain.  Revenue is a subject for another time.  I believe the number that is being considered is 16 million.  So Orange County takes the 16 million and the developer builds a bridge, a road, AND 1,999 homes of which 50% of the traffic will dump onto McCulloch and will keep this road a “F” rated road.  My own unverified calculations are 1,300 trips plus 1,000 trips from this development = 2,300 trips which is an “F”.  This does not include additional traffic that will use the road which will come from Seminole County as well as over the bridge from who knows where.

The bridge is proposed for one reason and one reason only and it is not to serve existing property owners.  It is to serve this development.  The proof of that is the configuration of the roadway after the crossing as well as who is driving the bridge idea.  The bridge is not proposed by Orange County, it is developer driven.  The road snakes its way through the development with three roundabouts along the way intended to slow traffic.  This road is not designed to move traffic.  It is designed to discourage pass through traffic.  If it were being built for the existing property owners living close by to access McCulloch it would be a straight shot over to 419 allowing for maximum throughput.  Notice there is no entrance on 419 in the northeast corner so if a person lives in this development at the northeast corner wants to go up 419, they would have to exit way down on Lake Pickett and drive all the way back up.  Conversely if a person lives on 419 and wants to go to McCulloch they would have to drive all the way down to Lake Pickett and then access the road from there and that driver may then opt to use Lake Pickett instead because it might be faster than snaking through this development.  Does that make sense?

There is another hidden factor that no one is talking about.  The property just north of this in Seminole County.  It is vacant land right now and I have heard the property owner there would love to develop it.  Can you imagine another block of homes going in up there and an entrance made to this road with that traffic coming across the bridge.  GROUND ZERO becomes a parking lot.  What are we talking about, 500, 1,000, 2,000 more trips onto McCulloch.  Don’t you think this should be examined much more closely instead of this being pushed through at light speed?

In my opinion, this development does nothing to “fix” our roads and only compounds an already existing problem.  Read on ….

Conceptual Regulating Plan

Conceptual Regulating Plan

In summary, all this does is continue the spiral downward and does nothing to fix the roads for the long term.  Orange County needs to stand on it’s own two feet and stop relying on developer money to fix roads.  If history is any indication, it has proven that this model doesn’t work and in the case of “GROUND ZERO” will just lead to more of the same.

Many people, residents, your neighbors, who are intimately involved with both Lake Pickett North and Lake Pickett South have looked at the road issues from every angle possible and I think a common theme has emerged.  The theme is there is no way our infrastructure in this area and the way the roads are laid out will ever be able to support the density of Lake Pickett North at 1,999 units.  There is a saying that goes, “Don’t fill a 5 lb bag with 10 lbs of ….”.  Fill in the blank yourself.

This is a Trojan horse.  It sounds great but will just lead to more gridlock west of the Econ.  And don’t forget Lake Pickett South.  If Lake Pickett South is approved, it will bring even more traffic to Lake Pickett, N. Tanner and McCulloch.

Orange County must stop allowing development to control infrastructure and find ways to fund the roads without developer money.   How can one district in Seminole County that is smaller in terms of tax base make 250 million in improvements, (read here) and our district in Orange County which is much larger has to resort to using developer money to “fix” infrastructure and try to scrape together money to fix roads.

I will give credit to Orange County for securing 200 million in bonds for infrastructure but according to a presentation by Renzo Nastasi, traffic manager for Orange County, what is needed is 1.6 billion.  200 million hardly puts in a dent in what is really needed for county wide improvements.  This 200 million is less than what one district in Seminole County is spending on infrastructure.

I know Seminole County has a one cent tax that contributes about 125 million each year to a defined list of roads.  Why doesn’t Orange County do the same?  Orange County could generate 350 million a year with a once cent tax and in five year fix every road in the entire county without developer money.  Why are we being held hostage to development?  Does this make any sense at all?

The tail is wagging the dog.

wag the dog

wag the dog

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The bridge is not the solution

4/5/2016 – Ground Zero at McCulloch and N. Tanner

The intersection of McCulloch and S. Tanner has become GROUND ZERO for traffic problems considering this new idea to cross the Econ at McCulloch Road.

Why am I completely against this crossing AT THIS TIME?

Numbers!  Purely numbers and facts!

LOS = Level Of Service.  LOS is a designation that Orange county uses to rate roads.  As shown below from the traffic study for the Lake Pickett North (LPN) (Rybolt) development, the section from Lockwood to N. Tanner is rated “F” (Exist LOS on the chart).

There is no worse designation!

Notice the cap of 880.  880 is the threshold that takes a road from “D” to “F”.  Notice the 1,300 (Peak Hr Volume).  This means that this section of roadway is 1,300 – 880 = 420 trips above an “F”.  In English, it is a really really bad “F”.  Like your kid getting a 30% on a test.  That’s a really bad “F”.  So this section is really bad.  You say, “What else is new, we all know that”.  Read on….

Lockwood to McCulloch LOS

Lockwood to McCulloch LOS

Let’s project some numbers based on LOS.

880 is an “F” for a 2-lane roadway.
2,000 is an “F” for a 4-lane roadway.

Let’s just say that Orange County 4-lanes McCulloch Road in this section so an “F” becomes 2,000 trips.

Without LPN, traffic is already at 1,300 so it is not an “F” if it were 4-laned but still not good.  LPN wants 1,999 homes.  Peak trips are about 2,000 trips overall and if you look at the little diagram below you see 50%.  That number means that LPN is going to contribute 50% of the peak trips or about 1,000 trips onto that section of roadway.

LPN percentage traffic on McCulloch

LPN percentage traffic on McCulloch

1,300 + 1,000 = 2,300 making that section of roadway an “F”.

And don’t forget the other mega development with over 2,000 units with traffic that will come over on Lake Pickett and up N. Tanner to the exact same interchange causing even more problems.

Don’t forget the traffic from the north that would otherwise go across on 419 coming instead down Lockwood or Old Lockwood to GROUND ZERO!

Folks, as good as it sounds to put this road in now and as much as you want to support this, it is by no means a solution.  All this will do is just add more cars to an already congested road and we will be in exact same mess or worse.

The solution is to first fix connectivity on the west side of the Econ and put in a 4-lane road called the Richard Crotty Parkway that goes from the end of Research Parkway over to N. Tanner.  This will divert traffic off of the section on McCulloch that is already an “F” and give it relief.  It will also provide a south entrance to UCF from the east as well as a way into Research Park.  After all, the developers have told us that the bulk of people who will be living in their houses will work at UCF or Research Park so doesn’t it make sense to give them a better way to get there.  My feeling overall is the density the developers on Lake Pickett North is too high for the infrastructure to handle and must be reduced.

Richard Crotty Parkway

Richard Crotty Parkway

Orange County must put this road in first before even thinking about crossing the Econ at McCulloch.

Key note:  Orange County must maintain roads above a certain LOS.  How will putting a bridge across the road fix anything given that in time, this road reverts right back to an “F”.

Any good soldier knows that the most critical factor in any war is supply line.  You can’t fight a battle with a broken supply line and that is exactly what Orange County is thinking about doing.  First you must strengthen your supply line before moving forward.  Fix the roads on the West side of the Econ before even thinking about crossing over.  Putting in another road across the Econ into a broken road system doesn’t solve the problem.

If you have read down this far, here is my view on LPN.  The density is way to high.  It is a land locked area with no good ways to move traffic and no way to effectively accomodate all the traffic.  It is also in an environmentally sensitive area located right next to the Econ.  If this is going to be a viable development, density must be reduced.  It is just too high.  On another note, no thought has been put into multi-modal transportation like buses, bicycles or other forms of transportation.  We are stuck in the world of cars and it is the reason our traffic problems are so intense.

 

 

 

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