Polk County, Florida — Changes to busy Lakeland roads are taking hold. The city commissioner agreed that having his three lanes on South Florida Avenue was the best option.
South Florida Avenue is the main artery that connects Lakeland’s north and south sides, but space on busy streets is limited.
After three years of research, it was decided how to make the most of the road for drivers and pedestrians.
South Florida Avenue in the center of Lakeland is very busy. A few years ago, the FDOT classified part of the corridor as unsafe due to narrow lanes and small sidewalks.
“Right now the sidewalk is collapsing. I know someone who crossed the street and stepped onto the sidewalk from an island and crumbled under their feet. It’s very dangerous,” said Wendy Johnson, owner of Crazy Kombucha. .
Wendy Johnson’s Brewery Crazy Kombucha is just off the busy streets of Dixieland. Business is booming in that part of town, but Johnson is concerned that her customers will not be able to reach her business safely.
“We’ve been here for about a year and a half, and it’s very difficult for customers to come to our front door,” says Johnson.
The City of Lakeland and FDOT conducted a study to find ways to improve the safety and curb appeal of South Florida Avenue. The so-called road diet transformed South Florida Avenue from five narrow lanes to three wide lanes.
Lakeland officials are now asking FDOT to make the three-lane road permanent.
“One of the biggest complaints we heard during the testing phase was that getting on and off Florida Avenue was difficult, not only for the side streets, but also for the adjacent businesses. One of the requests is to look at the signals up and down the corridors and look at opportunities to provide a better break in traffic,” he said.
Some residents worry that removing lanes will only add to traffic congestion. Officials say the safety benefit outweighs travel time.
“Tests showed an increase in travel time of about 46 seconds during typical peak hours. It can be ~2 minutes longer,” says Barmby.
The city is also asking FDOT to widen sidewalks and install audible signals for pedestrians.
“People can go out and walk their dogs, walk their kids safely, and cross the street. Told.
The City and FDOT will begin the design phase to create the final look and feel of South Florida Avenue. This is expected to take 12-18 months.