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Commissioners accept Lawrence Street traffic study

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The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted 3-0 at the regular meeting on July 27, 2021 to accept a traffic study and develop a traffic-calming plan for the length of Lawrence Street between Landover Boulevard and Barclay Road. Lawrence Street is commonly used as a cut through to avoid Cortez Blvd and Mariner Blvd.  The board also directed the Department of Public Works to develop a county-wide policy determining how much funding the county will provide to install traffic-calming devices, with or instead of a local tax on affected residents. (Municipal Services Benefit Unit or MSBU).

Commissioners Jeff Holcomb and John Allocco were absent from the meeting, and the attending members wished the full board to be present to vote on the matter.

Public Works Director Scott Herring and staff have determined that the cost of the traffic calming devices and other improvements would cost approximately $40,000.  The project will also include a 6 month after-study where traffic will be assessed following the implementation of the speed tables and other features, and will aid in consideration if further improvements are needed.

“If you implement this policy, I can guarantee you this will not be the last request you get,” Herring said, anticipating future requests from residents living on roadways where speed and road features are considered hazardous.

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The University of Florida (UF) Transportation Institute performed the study, and recommends that speed tables, and other related signage and marking improvements be installed. Herring and his staff reported that The Oaks Property Owners Association is in general agreement with UF’s recommendations, with the exception of a roundabout recommendation at the western end of the project.

Video footage provided by Dave Keck who lives along the roadway shows accidents ranging from vehicles simply leaving the roadway to rolling over.  According to Herring, speeding increased during the COVID pandemic and presents a “quality of life” concern, for which his office receives requests for traffic calming 2-5 times per week.

Keck stated to the commission that the county should pay for the traffic calming devices, since it was a county decision to extend Lawrence Street so that it connects Barclay and Landover.  The year that the road was extended was not stated at the meeting, but Keck and Vice President of The Oaks Homeowners’ Association Norman Stier attest that the problem has existed for 14 years.  Stier doubts that the matter will be approved if the vote goes before the homeowners.

Commissioner Steve Champion added that during his 5 year tenure, he has received “at least 100” requests for traffic intervention by Hernando County residents.  With concern about residents unaffected by traffic issues, Champion stated that he agreed that a local mandatory MSBU should be a complete funding source for such devices.

The study found that the east end of Lawrence Street near Sebastian Drive carried about 819 vehicles per day westbound and 758 eastbound.  This classifies Lawrence Street as a
“low volume roadway” or “local road” per the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) classification of roadways.  The results also indicate that speed and unexpected curves are the main factors in the crashes that have taken place on Lawrence.

Lawrence Street is the one throughway between Barclay Avenue and Landover Boulevard that is south of Cortez Blvd and North of Spring Hill Drive.  It is a common “cut through” for those who wish to avoid Cortez and Mariner Blvd.

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