At a crossroads: Prospect of new Fraser traffic light sparks location debate
FRASER – Fraser, Winter Park, Rendezvous and Grand Park have differing opinions about where a new traffic light should be located on US Highway 40.At the Fraser Town Board meeting on Sept. 21, board members agreed to collaborate with Winter Park officials and Grand Park and Rendezvous developers to decide how to proceed on Grand Park developer Clark Lipscomb’s request to install a traffic signal at the intersection of 1st Street and Highway 40 near Winter Park Market and the recreation center.Fraser Trustee Peggy Smith said that CDOT needs to tell the board the best way to move forward.”We have one shot to make it right,” she said.In May the engineering firm of Felsbur, Holt & Ullevig submitted traffic report summaries on Route 40 and 1st Street to Lipscomb. The traffic was recorded between Wednesday, Jan. 5 and Friday Jan. 14, and Friday, March 11, and Monday, March 21. The report states that current traffic volumes meet CDOT criteria for a signal at the intersection of 1st Street and US 40. The firm strongly recommends the location for signalization.In addition to the existing traffic load, the report notes that Grand Park Village developers have plans to add uses on the site that will “increase vehicle-trips through the 1st Street intersection, adding to traffic volumes that currently exceed warrant thresholds.”Safety issue”There is a public safety issue and the need is now,” Fraser Mayor Fran Cook said at the board meeting. “Two or three years from now is disastrous, and is worse than a Band Aid approach now.”Terry Stanford, director of land development at Rendezvous, requested at the board meeting that all parties meet and discuss the issue with CDOT. Later during a phone interview, Stanford said CDOT is working on an access study for the entire corridor running from County Road 5 to Winter Park Resort. “We have strongly suggested that the traffic light decision affects the entire community, not just Fraser and Grand Park but Rendezvous and the town of Winter Park,” he said. “We advocate that there should be involvement of the entire community including the fire and police departments of each town.”CDOT requirements may give us only get one shot for a traffic light,” Stanford added. “Our position is that as a community we need to figure out where the light should be. We just need to slow down and come together as a town and decide what is best. There is a perceived immediate need, but in reality we have time to get stakeholders together to decide what to do.”Kings Crossing accidentsDrew Nelson, Winter Park town manager, reported at the meeting there have been several vehicle accidents at Kings Crossing in Winter Park, and there is a pedestrian-safety issue.”Winter Park has been trying for a long time to get a signal at King’s Crossing,” Nelson said. “With future development, long term traffic could increase.” In a Sept. 20 letter to the town of Fraser, Winter Park Mayor James Meyers wrote that the town opposes signalization at 1st Street since it will “eliminate the possibility of a traffic signal at King’s Crossing.” Along with eight other points, he wrote, “Installation of an offset-T intersection will further confuse and alienate our guests and frustrate our residents.”In addition, he wrote, the proposed signal at First Street doesn’t address pedestrian crossing. However, Lipscomb said this week that his plan does address a triggered crossing.”We have a need today, we have the approved plan,” he said. “And, the need for the light will be intensified once the bowling alley and theater are completed, resulting in more vehicle traffic and a need for a signal.”State approvalAccording to Dan Roussin, Region 3 program manager for CDOT, the next steps for Fraser and Winter Park will be to determine the traffic signal location and “warrant” (obtain official approval through CDOT) the intersection using state highway access codes. Then, CDOT will work with local governments to plan and implement the project.Roussin has only recently received the engineering firm’s report and none of the three potential locations has been warranted, he said. Roussin and CDOT will work with the towns and developers to determine the best solution for the traveling public. “There are two local jurisdictions with a common border,” he said, “and we have to determine how traffic signals will work for the entire corridor. Everyone will have to work together for a solution.” The discussion is scheduled to continue at the Fraser Board meeting set for Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Town Hall.
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