The Brooksville City Council conducted a workshop on March 15 to revisit the prospect of reverting Brooksville’s one-way streets along Jefferson and Broad back to their original two-way configuration. Council member Blake Bell introduced the item to the council, reporting that he’s received feedback from city residents -- as well as witnessed himself -- unsafe vehicle speeds, particularly from large trucks.
The original transformation took place in 1993, in an effort to streamline traffic around the city. Critics blame the one-way roads for the demise of several businesses along that route.
Steve Diez, Executive Director of the Hernando / Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) gave a brief history of the 2017 investigation by the county and consultants Tindale Oliver, which concluded with some “next steps,” some of which have been completed.
The Florida Historic Main Street Designation of Main Street has been completed, and also the Implementation of Good Neighbor Trail. Tindale Oliver also recommended in 2017 that the water tower project also be completed, which it has.
Diez noted that the Proposed pedestrian enhancements on Orange Street has not been started and said of the future parking structure next to the courthouse, “Will probably never happen in my life, or any time soon.”
Another arm of the project to revert Jefferson and Broad back to two-way roadways involves the city and county working in concert with Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to convert Cobb Road to a four-lane road. Vice Mayor Robert Battista questioned the prudence of the construction, which will terminate onto two-lane US-98. Diez explained that Cobb would become the new US-98 and the existing US-98 / Ponce De Leon would revert back to the county’s control.
“It’s not going to be a cheap project,” Diez commented to Battista’s point. He added that the estimated $20 million price tag might be a little steep for the county at this time.
Battista noted that aside from the construction, right of way additions would need to be addressed to squeeze in an extra two lanes on Cobb. Diez also noted that FDOT is still feeling the financial trauma of Hurricane Michael on top of the COVID pandemic that hit last year, and is not considering any new projects for the foreseeable future.
If the project moves forward, another estimated $5-7 million would be needed for roadway striping downtown. Mayor Pat Brayton stated of this smaller amount, “Even spending $2 million right now… I have a hard enough time getting this council to hand up a decent reserve without having to spend 2-7 million trying to restripe downtown… I don’t see it happening.”