Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker admits that the city made some mistakes when it came to overhauling the intersection of Horatio Avenue and U.S. Highway 17-92 earlier this year. And now, the city is paying for them.
But, he said at last week’s Maitland City Council meeting, that doesn’t mean some major progress hasn’t been made in moving traffic.
The City Council voted last Monday to approve additional funding to cover the intersection construction project costs of going 49 days over contracted time. The project, which reconfigured traffic patterns at Maitland’s main downtown intersection causing an endless barrage of resident complaints along the way, tallied in at $77,153.43 over original budget.
The original $1.5 million in construction costs were covered by the Florida Department of Transportation. The costs over the originally budgeted contract fell on the city’s shoulders – as do additional changes, which are now in the works, to the intersection to clean up the traffic flow.
The city is working to undo part of the reconfiguration project, which added parallel parking spots along Horatio Avenue cutting the through-lanes down to one. The construction earlier this year was planned based on a transportation study done in 2004, Schieferdecker said, and didn’t account for increased rail traffic due to SunRail. Decreasing the traffic storage space by adding parking spots increased the chances of cars getting stranded on the rails. This month, the Florida Department of Transportation made a recommendation that the city retroactively remove the new parking spots to increase flow through the intersection.
The city is responsible for the costs of restriping the road, studying the change in traffic pattern, and retiming the traffic lights. In total, Maitland Public Works Director Rick Lemke said the restriping should cost around $2,500 and the study and timing will each add a few thousand dollars to the total cost of reworking the intersection.
Another request by the city to help keep cars from stacking up on the railroad tracks was denied by FDOT earlier this month. FDOT said no to the city’s idea of adding a preemption system at the Horatio intersection, which would have triggered a change in traffic lights when trains approached to clear out the intersection. Lemke said the set up of the intersection doesn’t meet FDOT preemption requirements.
“This is growing pain,” Schieferdecker said. “But after a little pain and a lot of frustration, most people are coming back and saying how much better it is. Except for the train (intersection).”