Traffic Increase Zooms Toward Lee Road

Traffic Studies Show, Better to Place Horse in Front of Cart

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

Traffic Increase Zooms Toward Lee Road

Guest Columnist Todd Weaver

Change is inevitable. The only thing we can control is the rate of change, and the important thing is how we manage that change rate. The Ravaudage development is set to bring major change to Lee Road at 17-92. How well is the City equipped to manage the change and the rate at which that change happens in this sector of Winter Park? Especially relevant: are the roads equipped to handle the increased traffic this development will generate?

Monday, the Winter Park City Commission will address another round of variance requests, building plans and setback deviations submitted by Dan Bellows, the developer of the ever-expanding Ravaudage juggernaut.

The Development Review Committee (DRC), consisting of highly-skilled staffers from City departments involved in the review and approval of site or building development projects, met last week to discuss these requests. With some conditions, all the requests were approved and will go to the Commission on Monday.

Requests for Setbacks, Waivers & Variances Abound

One request is for a zero-foot setback for a 6- to 8-story office building just west of Peacock Ford. This large office building, which will become the view from the single-family lakefront homes across the street in Maitland, is but a single element in a development that will include two major hotels, the rack-‘em-and-stack-‘em apartment buildings currently under construction, a retirement home and a host of other smaller out-buildings that will house restaurants, shops and smaller offices.

What’s the Plan to Handle the Increased Traffic?

Solutions to handle the sharp increase in traffic this out-of-scale development will generate are still on the drawing board. The Planned Development (PD) agreement with Orange County, negotiated prior to this PD’s re-annexation into Winter Park, includes alignment of Bennett Avenue and Executive Drive with an FDOT-approved traffic light on Lee Road.

Send the Traffic Through K-Mart Plaza?

The developer asked the DRC to waive the requirement for the alignment, because it would cause him to lose approximately half an acre at that intersection that he could otherwise develop. Bellows floated the idea of positioning the traffic light to move traffic through the former K-Mart plaza. Due to the complexity of adding a traffic light on a State road, the requirement to align Bennet and Executive was postponed for an additional year for further study. It could be years before traffic at this critical intersection will receive the direction it needs.

17-92 Design Modifications Years Out

A design modification to 17-92 to resolve the bike and pedestrian connectivity in the area is in the works, but that design is at the 60 percent level and rests entirely in FDOT hands. The modifications do not increase the number of motorized vehicle travel lanes. The construction completion date is uncertain, but years off.

No Plans for Lynx Terminal or Firehouse

Other conditions required of the Ravaudage PD were a Lynx terminal and a firehouse. Those two seem easier, but neither appears in the current plans.

Meanwhile, Back at Orange Avenue . . .

At the same time, City officials are pushing for high-intensity redevelopment along Orange Avenue, complete with an additional Sunrail station. A new station is a good idea if funding is available, but shouldn’t we consider a rail station at Ravaudage first?

How Will Traffic Increase Benefit Winter Park?

Just because the traffic statistics floated by City officials show our traffic numbers haven’t increased in 18 years, should we buy into the notion that a significant increase in traffic will be a boon for Winter Park?

Add to the rapid infill of giant apartment complexes in Maitland the proposal for 562 residential units, 320 hotel rooms and 1,254,357 square feet of commercial and office space at Ravaudage. Then ask yourself: how will the imminent explosion of traffic benefit residents or legacy businesses?

A change is in order, but the rate of change is out of control. Mr. Bellows was granted his entitlements from Orange County. Is it Winter Park’s responsibility or in Winter Park’s best interest to dole out more before the traffic infrastructure is in place?

Winter Park needs to put the transportation horse out in front of the Ravaudage cart.

 

Todd Weaver is a semi-retired aerospace engineer, engineering consultant and company president who has lived in his Winter Park home for 22 years.

  • author's avatar

    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

  • author's avatar

8 replies
  1. Donald Thompson says:

    Good article. Well researched and thought thru. We do need to step back; look into the future; and consider a solution to potential problems before they become insurmountable problems. IMO, there should be safe, clean, prompt public transportation available within a few blocks of every home; providing service to anywhere in Central Florida. Example: I should be able to easily walk from my Winter Park home to public transportation that takes me to OIA, Disney, downtown Orlando, etc.; thereby not needing an auto on our crowded highways. With planning that can happen.

    Reply
  2. Trade the Library for Ravadage says:

    If I recall correctly, the entire Ravadage land parcel was put up for sale about 5 years ago for what I recall was about $72 million.

    No buyers for the whole thing, so the development commenced parcel by parcel.

    Considering our City Commissioners are literally blowing $50 million in public funds on a new library and events center that almost nobody else in town wants, you have to wonder.

    For less than 50% more, they could have bought the entire Ravadage subdivision and deed restricted the whole thing to be all green space in its entirety and for perpetuity.

    What we have in Winter Park is the tail wagging the dog. This commission, come hell or high water, wants density, development, and drama. Residents no longer matter in Winter Park.

    Yes, change is inevitable, but does it have to always be bad or less bad change? Why can’t we ever have good, positive change in Winter Park – FOR THE RESIDENTS?

    Reply
    • Shari Yudenfreund-Sujka says:

      No increased traffic in the past 18 years? Do these people who proclaim such things drive on the roads in Winter Park?
      I have lived in Winter Park for 23 years and in the last week, the Orange Avenue spur from Fairbanks is backed up past the train tracks, New York Avenue is backed up past the train tracks at Fairbanks , and Park Avenue getting on to Fairbanks is also backed up.
      This has never happened before on a consistent basis like it is now.
      Being backed up at a light is one thing, being backed up onto the train tracks is just an accident waiting to happen.

      Reply
  3. Alan Kamen says:

    It is confusing to me why the folks in charge in winter park constantly make it difficult for consumers that don’t live in Winter Park to visit and spend money shopping and dining in Winter Park. Give us more available parking and make it easier for us to access the roads in Winter Park without the additional traffic that these developments will generate.

    Reply
  4. As always, thank you WPV, for dialogue says:

    This is an aside, but one in conjunction to the inordinate time in traffic not spent at the Lee Road-17/92 area.

    It is not meant as a put down or sarcasm, but the the Ravaudage (with City of Winter Park lettering under it) entrance is not attractive.

    The entrance feels out of proportion and the stone appears to be mildewed or moldy, with black spots all over it. Maybe the type of stone is covered with black spots. It seems sinister, like out of horror film.

    The development will always be tacky because of the odd and motley assortment of establishments. But the entrance would be much less unslightly if cleaned or refurbished, redone.

    Also, there is a road sign for a historic district in Winter Park. We have lived here for fifty years and our family have been holidaying here (and other former resort towns in Florida) for a hundred years.

    We are not aware of a historic district. Might someone point it out?

    We used to lived in a largely historic area, Virginia Heights, but it is not historic anymore.

    We are moving to another resort town with strong historic preservationist movement led by old families with long roots in the community and newcomers who venerate traditional American small town histories, cultures, environmental preservation, quality of life. This is one of our family towns (located in a region known for love, preservation of local culture and history), so we know it’s not going to change. The winters will be harder than Florida, but we’ll just visit a resort area if we need to warm up.

    Winter Park seems to have hit its traffic, density, overbuilding tipping point of no return with the current administration.

    Residents will either have to live in tiny enclaves and avoid 17-92/Lee Road, Aloma, and other roads as much as possible, or become hardened to the loss of quality of life, graciousness and amazing beauty that once was this city.

    A little of magical WP remains in these few pockets.

    Proper public transportation might make up for and ease the horrible traffic and hideous new development on 17-92/Lee Road, etc.

    Does anyone else remember the little Mercedes city buses for WP residents in the 1970s? I was too young to ride them then.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous says:

    The southbound 1792 traffic flow at 1792/Lee is already horrible without additional development. Blocking left turns at Webster and providing it at Lee was brilliant and worked greatly to stop that left hand lane backup.

    However, the back up is now in the right lane at Wawa. Do something to make it easier for cars to get in there without slowing down the southbound traffic at this intersection. Wawa needs a deceleration lane and entrance only. People can exit out the back to the light at Webster.

    As for the already nightmarish Orange Ave, who among us doesn’t pray you don’t get behind one of those darn people making a left??? Ever had a left turner while there is a Lynx stopped on the right? Fun times.

    I’ve tried to figure how to improve that road but short of removing on street parking and adding a center turn lane I don’t know how you fix it. It’s going to be a major cluster when they load it up with tons of Baldwinesque development. Newsflash …those people aren’t going to use the sunrail. But no worries, the developers have paid a FEE IN LEIU OF PARKING. Yeah, so maybe I don’t understand how that is going to work, but it sounds to me like, for a price, you get to congest the area beyond what is reasonable. Where does that money go???

    Prepare for Winter Park to be one big traffic jam. I pray the self-driving Uber concept takes off and we don’t need to drive …or park ….anywhere. Just text for a glorified private bus ride futuristic style.

    Reply
  6. Olde-er but Wiser says:

    I think they should let developers build whatever they want in Winter Park.

    That might actually wake up the sleeping giant – Winter Park’s 30,000 residents.

    Until that happens, nothing changes.

    With all due respect to the author, change is inevitable – everywhere but Winter Park.

    Here it’s always the same. Every year candidates fill residents with false hopes that things will change if they are elected.

    But the decline continues nonetheless.

    Commissioners, through various tricks over the years, have persuaded residents that they are the guardians and protectors of Winter Park’s village scale, charm, and quality of life.

    They are not.

    By only gradually taking a wrecking ball to Olde Winter Park, they have kept residents in their place, also through distraction with various festivals and entertainments, stacked City Boards and Task Forces, etc..

    They overplayed their hand with the library bond referendum though. Not a single poll, formal or informal shows anywhere near the 51% they told us residents voted to approve.

    Reply

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