Katara Simmons/News-Sun The driveway for Yarbrough Tire that empties into Youth Care Lane a short distance from the Sebring Parkway is one of the sticking points in the redesign of the Parkway expansion.
published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
County talks about tricky Parkway plans
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING -- Highlands County Commissioners spent much of their Tuesday morning meeting struggling again with traffic patterns on the Sebring Parkway Phase II.
In the end, they chose to put off making any major changes to the area, deciding instead to wait and hear from the owners of Yarbrough Tire & Services Inc., who own a pair of lots at the intersection of Youth Care Lane and the Parkway where turn lanes have been suggested.
It was just over a year ago the board instructed staff members to redesign the parkway from Youth Care Lane to DeSoto Road. In particular, they had asked that the plan eliminate a multi-use path, do away with a continuous southbound left turn lane and utilize the existing right of way.
"We went back to the drawing board, and under our new design we still would be able to have a sidewalk on the west side of the road," Highlands County Engineer Ramon Gavarette told the board Tuesday.
The cost of the action would run in the neighborhood of $516,000, but could increase with attorney fees. The money would come from an FDOT fund set aside for improvements to the Parkway.
Several logistical issues confront the commissioners in terms of making the traffic flow more smoothly in the area. It would involve the purchase of additional land for a northbound right turn lane onto Youth Care Lane as well as the relocation of a driveway which currently sits on Yarbrough's property just at the intersection of the parkway and Youth Care Lane.
"As a professional engineer, my recommendation is to close the driveway there at the intersection," Gavarette told the board.
Floyd Yarbrough, one of the owners of Yarbrough Tire & Service, told commissioners that moving both their access points already had been part of their plans but actual implementation was another matter entirely.
"We have had engineers out, but they all tell us, 'You have a bigger problem than we thought,'" he said.
The relocation of the driveways also means a change in the traffic patterns at the business as well as major changes in their utility services.
"(People) say that's an awful lot of money for that little piece of property, but the cost of the land is just a drop in the bucket," he said. "It's all this other stuff that has to be done."
Commissioner Ron Handley also suggested that county could put off current changes and instead look to the future, using county-owned property to the north of Fred Wild Elementary School to relocate an access road and change the traffic pattern to the school.
"We could live with what we have for the time being until we really need to do something," he said. "Then we could use the property so they could loop the driveway around and drop it back onto Youth Care Lane. There is a traffic signal there."
Handley said that land also could provide additional space to enlarge the building in the future should that be needed.
But, he pointed out, one of the issues revolving around the plan was that of projected growth, a notion he does not agree with.
"W have shrunk over the past six years. It's pie in the sky as to how far out it is that we really need this," Handley said.
That idea was countered by Yarbrough.
"You have a problem (at the intersection) now," he said. "If you doubt it, just go out there and spend some time."
Yarbrough cited not only school traffic problems in the early morning and late afternoon, but also southbound drivers who end up in the left-turn-only lane.
"Every day there is an occurrence. People cutting people off; sometimes you think there's going to be a fight."
Another issue that was discussed would be the possible effect that the driveway relocations would have on extending school zones. That might end up being significant with zones possibly stretching from north of Sebring High School to south of Fred Wild Elementary.
No date for another discussion on the matter was set.
Parkway expansion (by: Mark Forsyth - 10/18/2013)
The parkway expansion at this time should be tabled, unless federal financing will evaporate. Many changes were made years ago anticipating the extension of the parkway to Desoto however it has not materialized. The large development that was to occur where an orange grove now exists did not occur and growth in the area was part of the projects reason. I understand that infrastructure needs to be present however until it begins again dollars should be spent elsewhere to facilitate areas where current difficulties exist.
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