Lakeland votes in favor of ‘road diet’ along Florida Avenue

Traffic slowed down as part of the road diet. Accidents, especially serious ones, are declining.

LAKELAND, FL — The City of Lakeland Commissioner has voted to approve a major transportation project that could change the look and flow of the city for years to come.

But the decision affecting Florida Avenue in the city’s Dixieland neighborhood wouldn’t come without a few strong voices.

For the past two years, Lakeland has been experimenting with what it calls a road diet by making Florida Avenue between Ariana and Lime streets three lanes instead of four.

They extended concrete curbs and added stripes to signs to reduce traffic, reduce accidents and encourage more people to walk or bike through the area to benefit local businesses. Did.

“So this is part of a larger, more comprehensive effort to move people around Lakeland, not just cars,” said Chuck Vermey, Planning and Transportation Manager for Lakeland. .

The Commissioner was faced with a decision on whether to make the road diet permanent and whether to allow FDOT to get the ball rolling on more enhancements.

“As you know, it will be a painstaking process and a long time for FDOT to blend in with us, but the alternative is to pay for it all ourselves,” said Commissioner Stephanie Madden. Told.

There are concerns that the project may take longer than some companies can bear.

“But if there’s anything we can do to speed it up, I think it will help awareness in the long run,” said Commissioner Chad MacLeod. Do you feel like

City leaders spoke to officials who showed them the statistics. Traffic slowed down as part of the road diet. Accidents, especially serious ones, are declining.

Some people said they supported the notion.

“My wife and I want convenient, varied, interesting, and fun shopping close to home,” said neighbor Earl Lang. “Outdoor dining. Yes, I am for the road diet.”

But the majority of those spoken to asked the city to return to its former wider roads, citing more traffic being pushed onto nearby residential roads.

“Return to four lanes,” said Ron Smith. “It makes sense.”

David Bean, who also lives nearby, agreed.

“There is no pedestrian traffic in Dixieland,” Bean said. “And you may be trying to make one.”

City leaders eventually accepted the staff’s proposal, with a 4-to-1 vote approving FDOT to proceed with a more elaborate and permanent three-lane plan.

We still have a lot to do.

The City must identify local funding to obtain financial commitments from FDOT. He also needs to get the state legislature to move the project to his FDOT to-do list.

The city and FDOT should then create a design and consider measures, such as adding speed bumps, to appease those who had rational discussions about traffic issues.

Overall, this project could take up to ten years to complete.

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