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Residents and CM Becton’s Efforts Result in New Traffic light for Sweetwater

Jacksonville, FL (April 23, 2018) -- After 8 years advocating for a traffic light, residents within the Sweetwater and Summerfield communities in the Baymeadows East area were rewarded with a ribbon-cutting upon the conclusion of a short presentation by Council Member Danny Becton to officially activate their achievement. A new traffic light at Baymeadows East and Sweetwater Parkway and Nurseryfields Drive.

It was a rainy morning but 30 minutes prior and until shortly afterwards, the skies cleared momentarily to have many of the surrounding community residents come out to celebrate this achievement and watch as the new traffic signals were placed into operation.

Council Member Becton’s remarks from that ceremony:

“It’s not every day that we get together to celebrate the installation of a traffic light. But this morning, this traffic light installation is different. It’s special and it’s important. First because of the public safety impact that this light will have on the surrounding communities within this area. Lives will be saved and auto accidents will be curtailed as residents can now feel safe coming and going from their homes onto this busy intersection here at Baymeadows Road.

Second, this light is special because as a community, the perseverance and tenacity that was displayed to achieve this installation goes over and beyond and displays how neighborhoods and residents can accomplish what some might say is “impossible” to make a difference. 

This odyssey all began back on June 24th, 2010 when the community stood up, organized and decided after another serious auto crash, just a month before, that this initiative was important. From that year thru 2015, scores of public officials, including public works and traffic engineering were constantly reminded of this need. 

It was November 18th of 2015 after a traffic warrant analysis was conducted, that the result of that critical requirement came back, “passing”. Only then did we see hope that this installation might be accomplished. As all good ideas and plans typically need, it was the funding in the 2016-2017 budget provided by the current administration and passed by the City Council, that we can today celebrate this installation and achievement of so man

In recognition of those folks, this morning, I would like to take a moment and identify a few people that do represent many others who worked to this end and say “Thank You!”.

First, to the current administration of Mayor Lenny Curry

  • To the Director of Public Works, John Pappas
  • To the Chief of Traffic Engineering, Chris LeDew but also his predecessor Nelson Caparas.

Second, to my City Council Colleagues, represented today by City Council President, Anna Lopez Brosche (Anna, would like to say a few words). 

Also, I would like to recognize Zone 3, Chief Jennifer Short. It’s her team of first responders along with our Jacksonville Fire and Rescue who have had to respond time after time to accidents at this location.

And finally, a big “Thank you” to all the members of the “Traffic Light Committee” and to its tenacious leader Bill Bolebruch. (Bill, please come up and say a few words).

 This was definitely a community effort!

So, in closing, on behalf of the entire Jacksonville City Council and all the residents of District 11 who will benefit from these efforts, I want to congratulate everyone here and to those who could not be with us this morning on this achievement, To Say, Thank You again for all your efforts to making this day possible.

 Let’s activate this “Traffic Light”!”

The project to install a traffic light at this location began over 8 years earlier as accidents involving a dangerous part of the roadway caught the attention of area residents. It was June of 2010, that a Traffic Light (TL) committee was born organized and led by Bill Bolebruch, a resident of the community of Sweetwater. Joining into this process was residents from Cabana Club, Summerfield and the surrounding business communities all engaged to petition city hall for a traffic light at that intersection. As years went by, it was not uncommon for the committee to hear, “It will never happen”.

In 2015, Councilman Danny Becton was elected as the new District 11 representative for this area. It was not but a few days into office that this issue became one of his top priorities for which he had been engaged with the neighborhoods prior to taking office. Understanding the dangers of crossing this intersection, it was re-enforced during an on-site visit where several of the TL members and CM Becton drove together thru the intersection identifying the precarious crossing that it was. CM Becton stated that day, “This crossing through this intersection is not anything that I feel comfortable with and to suggest anyone do this on a day to day basis is concerning. Sitting on a blind curb, landscaped median and on a 4-lane divided roadway, I would not cross this road myself.”

The process of getting a traffic light installed, first requires an intersection passing a “traffic warrant” analysis. This analysis requires the identification of safety issues, capacity counts and the consideration of vehicular conflicts at the specified location. Conditions at the intersection must satisfy the traffic signal warrants from the state’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) which defines the minimum conditions under which installing a traffic control device might be justified. Upon satisfaction of a traffic signal warrant, an engineering assessment must be conducted to determine that the junction will operate safer with a traffic signal control. The MUTCD states that, since vehicular delay and the frequency of some types of crashes are sometimes greater under traffic signal control than under STOP sign control, consideration should be given to providing alternatives to traffic control signals even if one or more of the signal warrants has been satisfied.

According to the MUTCD: When properly used, traffic control signals are valuable devices for the control of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. They assign the right-of-way to the various traffic movements and thereby profoundly influence traffic flow. Traffic control signals that are properly designed, located, operated, and maintained will have one or more of the following advantages:

A. They provide for the orderly movement of traffic.

B. They increase the traffic-handling capacity of the intersection if:

1. Proper physical layouts and control measures are used, and

2. The signal operational parameters are reviewed and updated (if needed) on a regular basis (as engineering judgment determines that significant traffic flow and/or land use changes have occurred) to maximize the ability of the traffic control signal to satisfy current traffic demands.

C. They reduce the frequency and severity of certain types of crashes, especially right-angle collisions.

D. They are coordinated to provide for continuous or nearly continuous movement of traffic at a definite speed along a given route under favorable conditions.

E. They are used to interrupt heavy traffic at intervals to permit other traffic, vehicular or pedestrian, to cross.

Traffic control signals are often considered a panacea for all traffic problems at intersections. This belief has led to traffic control signals being installed at many locations where they are not needed, adversely affecting the safety and efficiency of vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic.

Warrant 1 requirements by number of lanes for moving traffic on the mainline and side street. Baymeadows Road East is the major street has two or more lanes on each approach. Sweetwater Parkway is the minor street and has 1 lane for moving traffic. The MUTCD Traffic Signal Warrant 1, Condition 1 requires a minimum of 420 vph on Baymeadows Road East total for both approaches and 105 vph on the Sweetwater Parkway approach. Although the satisfaction of any one warrant is enough and there is no need to apply for another warrant, we tested MUTCD Traffic Signal Warrant 1, Condition 2 for this study.

It was from traffic counts of the analysis that showed hourly intersection volumes by day. The traffic volumes at the intersection satisfied the MUTCD Traffic Signal Warrant 1, Condition 1 and the MUTCD Traffic Signal Warrant 1, Condition 2.

Other alternatives to signalization that may be applicable to the intersection are:

A. Installing measures designed to reduce speeds on the approaches.

Baymeadows Road East is a 4-lane median divided roadway with 85th percentile speeds between 40 and 43 mph. The adjacent areas are designed for developments. Lane reduction and other measures to reduce speed will not support the planned growth in the area.

B. Installing a flashing beacon at the intersection to supplement STOP sign control.

An all-way stop control will have to be installed and supplemented with all red flashers. The wide pavement of Baymeadows Road East and the curved northbound approach may introduce more rear end and right-angle collisions.

C. Installing flashing beacons on warning signs in advance of a STOP sign controlled intersection on major and/or minor-street approaches.

An all-way stop control will have to be installed and supplemented with all red flashers. The wide pavement of Baymeadows Road East and the curved northbound approach may introduce more rear end and right-angle collisions.

D. If the warrant is satisfied, installing multi-way STOP sign control.

The wide pavement of Baymeadows Road East and the curved northbound approach may introduce more rear end and right-angle collisions with an all way stop control

E. Installing a roundabout

May be more expensive than traffic signal

In Conclusion, the report stated:

The traffic volumes at the intersection satisfy the warrants for the installation of traffic signal control. One possible alternative is an all-stop control. However, an al-way stop control may introduce more crashes at the intersection due to the wide pavement at the junction, the curve on the northbound approach, and sight lines to maneuvering vehicles within the intersection.

Based on these considerations, the intersection is recommended for traffic signal control.

Today was a good day! It marked the conclusion of the neighborhood’s efforts for which lives will be saved.

TL Committee Traffic Light Presentation

COJ Traffic Signal Warrant Analysis

Visit the Photo Galley for Pictures of the event.