A county commissioner uttered a word the other day that I had not heard in quite some time.
Commissioners were discussing growth, and in particular the stores and homes coming to the Central Ridge area north of C.R. 486 and along the C.R. 491 corridor.
Commissioners are talking a lot about growth these days as they try to get out in front of it. Impact fees, concurrency, deep dives into zoning applications — nothing gets a cursory look.
But it sure perked my ears when I heard a county commissioner utter: “Moratorium.”
As in, construction moratorium until the roads can handle the traffic.
I thought I knew which commissioner said that but I can’t find it in my notes so I’m not going to guess. It didn’t go anywhere, not that day anyway.
But, boy, if there’s a word that gets someone’s attention, it’s moratorium.
The old timers around here will remember Tom Pelham, then the director of a state agency that oversaw growth management, waltzing into Citrus County and telling a big crowd that a building moratorium was coming to U.S. 19 because the road couldn’t handle additional traffic.
Somehow he escaped back to Tallahassee.
Moratorium is the worst-case. Gotta knock down numerous walls before getting there.
During Pelham’s days, the state used to grade roads based on their ability to handle traffic -- level of service, or LOS. Grades worked just like school days — an A and you’re good to go, an F and it’s time to hide the report card.
The county had to curtail development along failing roads and that’s where concurrency came from. With concurrency the developer pays its fair share of the necessary road improvements to handle the additional traffic.
Level of service grades reflect traffic counts at peak hour. Whatever that is — 7 in the morning, mid-afternoon when school gets out, 5 in the evening. The average of the peak hour of traffic each day.
The state used a formula to come up with the grade based on vehicle speed and road density. If the speed limit is 45 mph and you're stuck on a road that's constantly crawling from one red light to another, such as S.R. 44 west at C.R. 581, that road is probably a D.
A real reporter would know if the county still grades roads or not. If I find a real reporter, I’ll ask him. Until then, I’ll give it my best shot.
— U.S. 41, Floral City to Inverness: C. Average traffic.
— U.S. 41, Inverness to Hernando. F-minus. Here’s the thing, though: Because there’s only one traffic signal between the shopping center in Inverness and C.R. 486 in Hernando, traffic flows freely. If someone’s making a left into the Dollar General, however, it’s back-up city.
— S.R. 44 Inverness: F. And that’s a problem. There’s no place for this traffic to go. The city is permitting commercial construction along every square inch of space along the highway that it can, and with more apartments on the way, I can’t see this getting any better.
Fortunately, I have an alternate route to avoid all that traffic and if you’re nice I’ll share it sometime.
— C.R. 491. South of S.R. 44 it’s probably a C. Between 44 and 486, C heading toward a D (back to a C when the road is widened). North of C.R. 486, a low-grade C to Forest Ridge Boulevard. From there to Deltona Boulevard, D heading in a hurry to an F.
I’m going to get into more detail about C.R. 491 another time. It’s a mix of “we’re in good shape” and “uh oh.”
—C.R. 486: B, maybe a C. The county has been trying to move traffic onto 486 for quite some time. Officials have always seen it as under utilized. Be careful what you wish for. With Target anchoring an urban-like corner of 486/491 and the parkway coming to 486 in three years, the days of getting there quickly via 486 are fading.
— S.R. 44, between Croft Avenue and Turkey Oak Drive: B or C. That state forest all along the southern edge of 44 Inverness to Lecanto will prevent S.R. 44 from ever being an F. Thank goodness.
— U.S. 19: Look. It’s the biggest, baddest road (not named Suncoast Parkway) in the county. A single grade doesn’t cut it. Probably best to mark it “present.”
Those are your grades this Monday. Not sure we passed the test.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.