published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
County considers circle for intersection
By SCOTT DRESSEL
AVON PARK -- County engineers have come up with a new way to handle the intersection of Phase III of the Sebring Parkway, Memorial Drive and College Drive.
The concern has been how to keep College Drive, which winds its way through the South Florida State College campus, from becoming a major link between the next phase of the Parkway and U.S. 27. The college wanted to keep as much traffic as possible off College Drive.
The proposal discussed Tuesday morning before the county commission is a traffic circle, which would shunt traffic coming north on the Parkway onto Memorial Drive.
County Engineer Ramon Gavarette told the board that there had been six or seven ideas proposed, most of which would have required the county to purchase right of way. The circle plan, which was "Option 6 Revised," will use land that belongs to the college, which would be available without cost through an easement.
The college would grant the right of way to the county but wants to maintain control of the use of the center of the circle for signs and landscaping. Gavarette said that as long as the items in the circle don't affect sight lines and become a safety hazard, that would be fine.
"I like the idea of the circle and like the fact that it's going to route traffic north without entering the circle," Commissioner Jim Brooks said.
Brooks also likes that the circle concept would negate the need for a traffic signal.
Like the Sebring Circle, traffic on the roundabout will have right of way, Gavarette said, which is how traffic circles are supposed to work. He told the board that plans are in progress to get all traffic circles in the county -- most notably the two on Sun 'N Lake Boulevard in Sebring and Devane Circle in Lake Placid -- to use the same traffic rules.
Joe Wright, vice chairman of the SFSC District Board of Trustees, told the board the college is thrilled with the new idea and commended the engineering department for its work on the project.
"What a pleasant surprise that we weren't wrestling over one or two options but had multiple options," he said. "This one jumped off the page."
In response to a question from Rhonda Beckman, head of Ridge Area Arc, Gavarette said plans still called for Baltimore Street to be closed off from access to Memorial Drive. Arc has multiple facilities on both sides of Baltimore Street.
Previous discussions involved a "double-Y" intersection that would have made it difficult for drivers to get from the Parkway onto College Drive.
While commissioners voiced their approval of the plan, no action was taken or direction given at the meeting.
(by: Blindman~ - 5/23/2013)
A simple 4-way intersection would have been the most efficient & economical choice "over all". To shunt traffic through two residential neighborhoods instead of using College Drive is wrong. The college is self-serving. The comission... caving to the education clan. Micromanaging traffic with a freaking circle on Memorial Drive may please SFSC, but this thing is a joke! The citizens of Highlands County have a right to expect Commissioners to use authority with courage, for the good of "the whole". Leadership is about making tough decisions. Commissioners, you always knew it best to do the 4-way and let nature take it's course. Show some courage and use your power... FOR THE PEOPLE!
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