Billed as safety improvements, changes planned for the western section of State Road 472 are raising concerns for some people who live close to the divided four-lane road.
The Florida Department of Transportation proposes to revamp the intersection of S.R. 472 and Minnesota Avenue, by building a new directional grass median in the crossing and setting up a U-turn opening approximately a half-mile west of the intersection. That U-turn opening is supposed to have more pavement to accommodate larger vehicles, such as tractor-trailers.
The planned median will allow drivers on S.R. 472 to make left turns onto Minnesota Avenue, but drivers on Minnesota approaching 472 will be permitted to make only right turns.
The intersection now has 18 “conflict points,” the FDOT has concluded. A conflict point is a place where two vehicles could collide. Once the changes are made, the state agency says, the number of conflict points at the intersection will be reduced to four.
The possible modifications were unveiled at an informational meeting hosted by the FDOT at DeLand’s Sanborn Activity Center Sept. 14.
“All improvements will be constructed within the existing right of way,” the narrator of the automated presentation said.
People who live along nearby Durfey Avenue are critical of the FDOT’s plan.
“We were promised three years ago they [FDOT] would put in a traffic light up there,” Luis Baez said. [S.R.] 472 has become a speedway. They come off [Interstate] 4 at 60, 70, 90 miles an hour, and we see it every day. A traffic light would slow traffic down.”
Baez added he does not want to drive a half-mile westward to make a U-turn to get to his home east of the intersection of S.R. 472 and Minnesota Avenue.
“They go 100 miles per hour,” Alex Hazel, a neighbor of Baez’s, said, agreeing about the excessive speed of some vehicles on S.R. 472. “It’s a racetrack.”
Figures released by the FDOT show there have been 19 auto crashes on the segment of the roadway in question since the beginning of 2019 until now. There have been no fatalities, but four people suffered incapacitating injuries.
The recommended changes resulted from a 2018 study of the road. In addition to the median modifications at the intersection of S.R. 472 and Minnesota Avenue, the FDOT would like to add lighting along the highway and “audible pavement markings to alert veering drivers” in the outside lanes of the highway.
The design of the safety improvements is supposed to be complete in the spring 2022, and construction is to take place in the fall, according to the FDOT. The cost of the design is estimated at $425,000, and the construction will cost approximately $700,000.
The segment of S.R. 472 between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway and U.S. Highway 17-92 had an average daily traffic count of 29,500 vehicles in 2019, the most recent report compiled by Volusia County Traffic Engineering shows.
The FDOT is still taking public comments on the planned changes on S.R. 472. Anyone interested in offering comments about the project may contact Megan Owens, project manager, at 386-943-5140 or by sending an email to Megan.Owens@dot.state.fl.us.