Ever have one of those days when it’s one thing after another and a bunch of little items are getting done but nothing really major because there are too many distractions this close to the lake and the next thing it’s 5 p.m. and not a single blog topic comes to mind?
Now you feel my pain.
So, let’s gab.
I saw an email recently from a citizen suggesting the county place a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of C.R. 491 and Horace Allen Street in Lecanto
As someone who detests new traffic signals…I firmly support this idea.
Let’s recall the situation at Horace Allen. In the search for easier routes to get one from here to there, numerous motorists have discovered Maylen Avenue as a shortcut, of sorts, between S.R. 44 and 491 about a half-mile south of C.R. 486.
Two problems come from this.
One, as I’ve covered, Maylen is in no condition for significant traffic. The Suncoast Parkway route skirts right along it and the road is a narrow country lane with no center lines. Pretty much a traffic-free-for-all.
Horace Allen, which connects Maylen with C.R. 491, is in fine shape thanks to a long-ago developer who improved the road for the houses he never built.
The road intersects with C.R. 491 at one of those odd angles that makes a left turn difficult. Plus, it’s also around the area where the two lanes merge into four lanes, so you’ve got cars coming from all directions. Horace Allen backups are normal as folks wait for a left-turn opening.
The county has a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 13 and the road widening starts a month later. When finished, Horace Allen/491 will have a T-shaped intersection — and a traffic signal.
So, excuse me for being a little dull in the government common sense area, but…if we’re putting a signal in any way when the road work is finished, why not install one now when the PROBLEM EXISTS TODAY?
Yet…crickets. If the county has plans to make the intersection safer under the current conditions, it hasn’t said so.
This board is turning into more of a head-in-the-sand bunch than any I recall. No discussion on Maylen Avenue. No discussion on Horace Allen/491 traffic signal. No discussion on what selling Betz Farm for a 300-home development does to the traffic nightmare that Turkey Oak Drive is about to become.
Yet, commissioners have a detailed Big Picture discussion on traffic concurrency and shy away because — shockingly — it’s going to be expensive to find out what shape our roads are in today and the cost of future expansion.
I don’t get it. Do commissioners believe these traffic challenges will disappear on their own? We’re not asking for miracles here. But, for crying out loud, at least make an attempt to show some interest in seeing what the rest of us see and experience every day.
That’s why the idea of a groundbreaking for 491 seems a little, um, I don’t know…unnecessary? A groundbreaking usually celebrates an accomplishment. Widening a section of the roadway 10 years after it should have been done is hardly cause for celebration.
County Administrator Steve Howard gets credit for making sure that project gets started this year. But celebrating what essentially is the second part of a 3-mile road widening that their predecessors left hanging seems a little out of touch.
Now. When commissioners break ground in future years for the next C.R. 491 widening, the one needed between Forest Ridge Boulevard in Beverly Hills and U.S. 41 in Holder, that will be cause for celebration.
Unless commissioners ignore that one too.
Conversation, commissioners. Is it too much to ask?
— The stitches are mostly out, and my driving privileges restored. The left side of my face feels nearly alive again. The numbness, I’ve learned, will eventually subside in most areas but not all. I’m already seeing improvement. I’m not dribbling Coca-Cola from the left side of my mouth nearly as much as last week.
Thanks again for all the well-wishes and prayers. I’m truly grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.