In my last post I talked about a DMZ Zone. In this post I explain what it is and why people living in this area are living in a sort of no-mans land. To fix our traffic problems some compromises might have to be made.
The DMZ Zone is the blue shaded area on this map. To understand what is going on in this area, we need to understand the goals of several powers-that-be.
UCF has always had a hands off approach to the roadways surrounding the campus. The surrounding roads are built and maintained by Orange County. Because UCF is a state entity and is not under the control of the county, UCF maintains the roads inside UCF property. The campus has grown to 61,000 students with well over 10,000 employees so UCF certainly has an affect on the surrounding area. While UCF has a great road system within the campus, no connecting roads to the east exist helping to create the DMZ Zone.
Research Park is also a large area just south of UCF whose companies employ in excess of 10,000 employees. The roads within Research Park are private. Research Park does not want pass through traffic and is not in favor of opening up it’s roadways to east – west traffic. Yet the Richard Crotty Parkway is on the Orange County long range plan. But Orange County can’t put it through because it goes from the end of Research Parkway which is private over to N. Tanner. There are also two other connection points that could easily connect Bonneville to Research Park but they are also controlled by Research Park. (watch this video to understand the connectivity issues) Research Park does not want these roads connected because it might prove detrimental to their business. This is very understandable.
Because UCF and Research Park occupy the space between McCulloch and Hwy 50, all the connection points south of McCulloch and north of Hwy 50 are off limits creating the DMZ Zone.
Because the DMZ Zone exists, when the roads to accommodate Lake Pickett North was being planned, the road from Lake Pickett to Woodbury (the controversial road through the Montessori school) was being considered as it does not touch Research Park or UCF and sort of provides another east – west connection.
Seminole County has no desire to assist in four laning McCulloch for a couple of reasons. The east side of Seminole County is mostly rural and they want to keep it that way. There is also the fear that four laning McCulloch would lead one step closer to crossing the Econ and bring urban life to the rural area. Another reason is it would bring more traffic to McCulloch from Orange County which serves no benefit to Seminole County.
So where does that leave Orange County. Orange County has a problem. UCF and Research Park are blocking connectivity west of the DMZ Zone. Seminole County is blocking the four laning of McCulloch. But traffic keeps coming that has to be addressed.
Meanwhile we are living right in the middle of the DMZ Zone.
Where does that leave the residents who live on McCulloch and N. Tanner? Anyone who lives on the south side of McCulloch (University Estates) or the West side of N. Tanner are in the worst position. Because the natural flow of traffic out of sub-divisions is west to shopping centers and work centers, residents of University Estates have to cross a lane of traffic to get onto McCulloch. The same is true for people who live on the west side of N. Tanner and want to travel McCulloch. They have to cross a lane of traffic. No matter where you live off N. Tanner or McCulloch, residents still have trouble getting out into the flow of never ending cars.
Where does that leave commuters who travel Hwy 50 or McCulloch? Expect a never ending stream of cars on McCulloch and a long line of cars on N. Tanner. It has backed up all the way to the middle school at times. Lake Pickett will be backed up as well as S. Tanner from the stop sign as more cars traverse McCulloch and Hwy 50. With the Fall UCF semester approaching, expect delays and long lines of cars.
But that’s not the end of the story. To the residents of East Orange County it gets worse. For the last couple of years, the emphasis on traffic has been spotlighted because of the Lake Pickett developments. We have a reason to converse with Orange County and visa versa. If the Lake Pickett text amendment is adopted along with Lake Pickett South and eventually Lake Pickett North is approved, we will lose our communication conduit to the county. It is the land use issue and re-zoning that has keep the focus on traffic.
If the amendment is adopted, will the residents in East Orange County continue to have that intensely, burning passion that exists now or will it be reduced to a smoldering ember that will all but extinguish the spotlight on traffic and we fall back into oblivion and just accept things as they are. Do we become the frog in the pan and not really understand the danger until it is too late?
We have unfinished business! We need the powers-that-be to come together and compromise on McCulloch Road and connection points from east to west. This is our community and we live here and have to drive these roads everyday. We all need to stay involved and keep pressing the county to fix the roads.