Highway 50 traffic at new apartments

Traffic counts in East Orange County

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Last week I posted a blog on the history of McCulloch Road.  This post goes one step deeper and gives you a birds eye view of what traffic looks like in East Orange County.

I found this link on the internet that shows planning level daily capacity of a road (Round numbers based on Level of Service D/E thresholds in HCM 6th Edition) to give you an idea of roadways capacities.

  • 2 lane local street:  1,000 vehicles per day based on livability
  • 2 lane (w/ left turn lanes):  18,300 vehicles per day
  • 4 lane (w/ left turn lanes):  36,800 vehicles per day
  • 6 lane (w/ left turn lanes):  55,300 vehicles per day

When it comes to our traffic problems, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to quickly see where the problems are when looking at the map below.It’s McCulloch Road, University Blvd, Alafaya Trail and Hwy 50.  The worst section in the entire area is McCulloch Road with 22,518 cars a day.  Even though the other roads have more volume, 11,259 cars per lane make it the king of the roads in this area.  (Counts came from here)

Traffic Counts

Traffic Counts

Then when you look at the accidents from 11/1/2017 to 11/1/2018, you can see a direct correlation.  What is saddening is there has been 6 fatalities in this period.  (Counts came from here)

Crashes from 11/1/2017 - 11/1/2018

Crashes from 11/1/2017 – 11/1/2018

What is the plan to address our ever increasing roadway problem?

Sustany - 1,999 units

Sustany – 1,999 units

There is no plan and there hasn’t been one unless you consider Ted Edwards plan that included two huge subdivisions in the Lake Pickett area which would have brought thousands of cars onto the same roadways.  His plan required the developer to pay millions for road improvements but in reality none of them would have helped our situation.  They would have benefited the developer because after all, it is their money.  This is called “County Partnership” Roads on the Long Range Transportation Plan and is the county’s solution to fund the roadways.

One example was the proposed Sustany development just east of the Econ and south of the county line.  1,999 homes with a road through the middle snaking down to Lake Pickett Road.  The other end of the road linking to McCulloch with a bridge over the Econ.  We were told this road would benefit the area and relieve traffic but anyone paying attention quickly realized this was to the benefit of the development and provided a way out of the community to the east.  There was massive resistance from both Orange County and Seminole County which ended in a down vote from the Orange County Board of County Commissioners.

County Partnership Roads

County Partnership Roads

What is the Solution?

There is only one way to adequately fund the 1.6 billion in roadway needs in the county.  That is through a tax that Mayor Jacobs resisted.  I hear Mayor Demings is amiable to the idea.

Pulling in every direction

Pulling in every direction

But that doesn’t solve the problem in East Orange County because there are different ideas on how the roads should be fixed that pull the county in every direction.  That is a subject for another blog but here are a couple to think about.

Research Park is talking about tolling their roads and not allowing pass through traffic unless you pay which cuts off a path traffic take from Avalon up Woodbury through Research Park to UCF.  This forces traffic onto Alafaya which is already over capacity.  In addition to the tolling, The partnership road labeled, “New East West Rd” on the map will never happen as Research Park will never allow it because it links to their private roadway.  This means traffic from the ever increasing traffic from the east must use either McCulloch or Hwy 50 to get around UCF/Reseach Park.

Also the people who live in the rural area don’t want any more traffic on their roads so 4-laning Lake Pickett will meet maximum resistance as will any changes to the roadways in and around the Lake Pickett area.

And then we have our car-centric society with no real multi-modality options.  A whole other blog.  Wow, lots to talk about.

It is the job of our district commissioner, Emily Bonilla, to find solutions to these problems but as far as I can see she is focused on other areas and traffic problems in East Orange County is not a priority.


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Accidents on McCulloch

The story of McCulloch Road and why it is so congested

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McCulloch Road used to be an lazy country road when I moved here 25 years ago.  Two lane and hardly any traffic.  Can you imagine that?

Now it is one of the only two arterial roads that move traffic east-west in East Orange County.  There are no other roads and Orange County has no plans to improve our infrastructure even though more and more development is happening all around us.

A question to Orange County and specifically, Commissioner Bonilla.  What is the plan to address this problem?

I was out walking my dog one night and thought I would make a video and tell you the story of McCulloch Road as well as show you some maps and charts on what has happened over the years.  I talk about how the paving of N. Tanner and opening Avalon Park Blvd to Hwy 50 has impacted McCulloch Road.  But let’s not forget Lockwood Blvd opening up to 419 from McCulloch.  I remember when that road stopped at Haggerty High.  Connecting roadways is great but there has to be a plan to address the impact.


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Highway 50 traffic at new apartments

Listen to this man from Seminole County talk about traffic in his area – can you relate?

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This man is at the podium in opposition to a development in Seminole County.  It is an all too familiar story and rings true for us who live in East Orange County as well as the Oviedo/Chuluota area.

Here’s what he had to say,
We are developing, developing, developing with no infrastructure in place to handle it … there has got to be some sort of supporting infrastructure … we keep building but the roads aren’t catching up, nothings catching up with any of this and it’s time to stop, take a break and catch up a little bit so that we’re all not backed up traffic wise all the time“.

He talks about the impact fees paid by developers to support infrastructure that are supposed to pay for road improvements.  I ask myself sometimes, where did all those impact fees for all the subdivisions and development that have been built go.  I have a hard time believing they were spent on county roads in East Orange County as there have been no road improvements for many years and none slated for the future.  Also the impact fees are a drop in the bucket compared to what is actually needed which is the main reason why Orange County is in such dire straits.

What bothers me the most is that Orange County has been and is facing big traffic issues in our area but Orange County and our county commissioner have no plan to address it.  So it can only go one way … more traffic and more gridlock.  Keep in mind traffic improvements take ages to implement so even if something was started today we wouldn’t see the fruits of those labors for years.  Unless we start demanding a plan for traffic, the path we are on now is not so good.  One of Mayor Demings top 4 priorities is transportation.  It will be interesting to watch how East Orange County ranks when it comes to funding improvements to our roadways.


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Orange County Market Area Boundary

Orange County is working on a new approach to development rules

Orange county’s land development code was written 60 years ago for a car-centric society separating residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural which is why most of us live in HOA suburbs in single family homes.

Affordable housing is becoming a common term today because homes are becoming more and more expensive with the average single family detached home in Orange County selling for $400,000 dollars.  People just can’t afford these houses anymore.  The new code will encourage mixed-use development with a high density residential component closer to mass transit.  The word sustainability is also becoming more of a household word.

It is nice to see the area east of the Econ labeled “Rural East”.  Thinking about the big developments proposed over the years in the Lake Pickett area, if there was one reason they just don’t work forgetting they are in the rural area to begin with is the sprawl and how 2.5 homes per acre just doesn’t fit into the trend of the future.   I often thought the desire to appease the people who live in those area by continuing to reduce the density is a double-edged sword.  It’s great having less houses but it certainly doesn’t help sprawl.

And I never could understand how a development could be proposed that was entirely driven by cars (pun intended).  The communities were called “walkable” but walkable where?  A person living there certainly can’t walk to work and there is no bus service or bike trails to take a person to a place of employment so walkable really means a person can walk around the block.  That doesn’t sound like a “walkable” community to me.

Are single family detached homes on a half acre or more a thing of the past?  I hope so and I also hope more emphasis is placed on multi-modal transportation options as there is no way our infrastructure can continue to support all these cars.  No development should be built without every transportation option available.  It is just not sustainable.

 

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