Gospel Island eyes traffic signal
It’s Thursday and you know what that means: commission email!
This week’s batch comes randomly from Commissioner Jeff Kinnard. I picked up on some emails regarding roads, boat ramp fees and fallout from the parkway’s opening.
Here we go:
— At Kinnard’s request, the Florida Department of Transportation is studying whether to install a traffic signal on S.R. 44 at Gospel Island Road near Inverness.
I’m quite familiar with this area. When I drove here for my job interview, I stayed with an old college buddy, Tom Henry, who lived in an A-frame off Gospel Island Road. His neighbor was Jim Hunter, then the city editor of the Chronicle. He had another neighbor too. Some big guy named Charlie Dean.
After being hired by the Chronicle, my first Citrus County home was a mobile on Sunfish Avenue, a quarter-mile east of Gospel Island.
It’s not a real high-traffic area of 44 but, like everything else around here, it’s getting there.
Bob Esposito, executive director of the Hernando-Citrus MPO, said in an email to Kinnard he expects the study to conclude in two weeks.
By the way, an interesting fact: There are no traffic signals on the entire stretch of S.R. 44 between U.S. 41 in Inverness and the freeway in Wildwood. I hate stoplights like anyone, but it seems this would be a good place to put one.
— Unless you live in Crystal Oaks, it’s difficult to see the traffic nightmare created by the on-ramp to the Suncoast Parkway.
This is how one woman said it in an email to Kinnard:
“I have witnessed numerous times, the traffic coming out of Crystal Oaks almost pull out in front of vehicles getting on the parkway because the traffic getting on the parkway enters the turn lane for Crystal Oaks and drives through to the parkway turn lane. The traffic coming out of Crystal Oaks believes the traffic on Hwy 44 is turning into Crystal Oaks but in fact drives through to the parkway turn lane.
“I am asking if something can be placed to divide the two turn lanes so traffic cannot pass through from the Crystal Oaks turn lane to the parkway turn lane. If there was some sort of permanent barrier, this could potentially save lives as both roads have gotten much busier since the opening of the parkway.”
Doesn’t this seem like a no-brainer? This resident is spot on. The turn lane should have a divider in it to keep parkway on-ramp traffic from being mistaken for someone turning into Crystal Oaks.
— As a follow up to last week’s batch of emails that included complaints about the county’s new boat ramp fee system, the county has heard your pleas.
You may recall the complaint from boaters isn’t the fee itself, but the registration process. Boaters went online to buy annual passes and put in their vehicle license plate number, when the system requires the boat trailer license plate number.
The county’s initial response was all this is clear on the website (which it OBVIOUSLY isn’t if folks are confused). The boaters have a good point. Someone posted a screenshot with his email. It not only asks for the license plate number, but also “make”, “type” and “color” — the normal questions you’d see on any registration for your CAR. How many forms want to know the “make” of your boat trailer?
So now the county has a second response. It is placing new signs at the four fee boat ramps — Hernando, Fort Island Trail, Fort Island Beach, MacRae’s — saying it’s the trailer plate number that counts and launching without paying the fee may result in a citation.
That’s great, but go back to where I was a week ago. This is a brand-new, never been tried before system in Citrus County. The idea that boaters paid citations because of registering their vehicles and not their trailers — those people need to be made whole.
Citrus County is facing a ton of challenges, but it’s solving issues like these that give citizens confidence in their local government. If not, they can drag on for months with little resolution in sight.
Gospel Island may need a traffic signal. The boaters shouldn’t be hassled about getting a ramp pass. It’s no fault of Crystal Oaks that the state snatched its turn lane for the parkway.
This is what the local government does. It accepts and solves local challenges. We’ll be seeing how it handles these citizen concerns.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.