DAVENPORT – The Florida Department of Transportation has agreed to take a second look at a traffic signal on U.S. 27 in Davenport, following complaints from local residents and a report by Freeline Media.
“One of the things we’re going to do as a result of you calling me about this, is our staff is pulling the crash data on that signal,” said Cindy Clemmons, the public information officer for FDOT’s District 1 office, which covers Polk County. “From that they’re going to look at the frequency and types of crashes that happened at that intersection, and then look at the (traffic) manual and see if they qualify for just a green arrow.”
A year ago, FDOT installed a traffic signal at Legacy Park Boulevard, to make it easier for residents traveling northbound on U.S. 27 to make a left hand turn into the Legacy Park subdivision. U.S. 27 is a very busy highway, with a steady flow of cars and trucks moving across it daily.
The residents of this development made up of 1,062 single family homes had requested the light for several years, in the hope that it would make it easier to get in and out of their subdivision. But now they’re complaining that there are still plenty of accidents there, even a few fatalties.
Their complaint is that if a car is traveling northbound on U.S. 27 and comes to the traffic light at Legacy Park Boulevard, the motorist can get into the left hand turn lane and wait for the signal to turn green.
Under normal circumstances, when that light goes green, it means the signal for the southbound traffic has turned red, halting those cars.
But in this case, the left hand turn lane light for northbound traffic goes green – but so does the light for southbound traffic.
Ron DeCarlo, the president of the Legacy Park Master Association, said this has been confusing for Northeast Polk County motorists. This tourism-friendly region attracts not just tourists and snowbirds from around the country, but also international visitors and Europeans.
DeCarlo said he’s complained to FDOT, but was told that the signal actually has a green ball light, which means proceed with caution.
Clemmons said that’s accurate. A green arrow signal means it’s safe for motorists to turn, she said, but a green ball signal means proceed with caution, because the traffic moving in the opposite direction has a green light as well.
At the Legacy Park Boulevard signal, she said, “The left turn phase is currently operating as protected/permissive. It means the left turn phase has a green arrow first, which means it is protected – people are protected when they have the arrow. Once the arrow goes away, it goes to a solid green turn, and they are not protected any longer. They can still turn, but they need to proceed with caution.”
After being contacted about the signal by Freeline Media, Clemmons said her office would take a second look at safety concerns there. It could include changing the signal so the green ball is changed to a permanent green arrow.
“In order for this to happen, certain guidelines have to be met,” she said. “There are certain things that are outlined in our manual. We would have to look at how the signals are actually programmed. They’re going to look at the length of the yellow (signals), what are the turns there, do you have a heavy left turn movement, is it conflicting the contrasting traffic flow.”
When FDOT receives a request for a new traffic signal, Clemmons noted, FDOT conducts a traffic study to see if the volume of cars and trucks at the intersection warrants it. Similar signals were also installed on other stretches of U.S. 27 in Northeast Polk County, including at the Polo Park development near the Polk/Lake County line, and at the Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Haines City.
After that, the agency decides what kind of signal works best for the traffic situation there.
“You just take every intersection that warranted a signal and look at different elements, and take the traffic signal that best matches what is occurring at that intersection,” she said.
If the traffic situation changes or worsens, she said, FDOT is definitely willing to re-evaluate it.
“It’s pretty common,” she said. “People call us all the time and say, ‘Hey, I’m driving this road all the time, and this is occurring here, and can you fix it.’ And if we can, we will. ”
And after getting the call from Freeline Media about the Legacy Park Boulevard signal, Clemmons said FDOT would reexamine it.
“We’ll definitely look into it and if there’s something we can do to tweak it, we will,” she said.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.