By DOTTY NIST
There was discussion on Feb. 12 about the roundabout, a.k.a. traffic circle, planned for the CR-395/CR-30A intersection in Seagrove, with more to follow at a scheduled public hearing.
The discussion took place at the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regular meeting on that date at the South Walton Annex.
The $1.1+ million project had been approved by the BCC in August 2012 as a strategy to remedy excessive delays at the busy intersection, now a three-way stop, along with long lines of traffic occurring there at some times of the year, and safety issues. Also approved was a $78,000 proposal for engineering and inspection services on the project. According to Greg Graham, county engineering services manager, the county has been billed for approximately 50 percent of that contract. Costs for the project are to be paid from the proportionate fair share account. To date, no construction on the roundabout has been initiated.
Prior to the approval of the project, the county had also considered the option of a traffic light at the intersection.
At the Feb. 12 BCC meeting, District 5 Commissioner Cindy Meadows expressed concern about the cost of the roundabout versus the cost of a traffic light, approximately $300,000. Another of her concerns was that the roundabout construction would entail the removal of 15 parking spaces at the intersection across from Seagrove Village Market. Meadows pointed out that a number of businesses in the area of the intersection rely on that parking. Meadows noted that the bike path would have to be rerouted to the north on CR-395 in connection with the roundabout. She also said there had been neighborhood opposition to the roundabout.
Meadows observed that a right-of-way agreement with adjacent property owners would be necessary for the roundabout. an agreement that had been sought for five years and had still not been obtained. She called for moving ahead with a traffic light instead. She suggested that the light could be changed from red-yellow-green to a blinking light during the winter when traffic is lighter.
Graham commented that operational studies had been conducted on options for the intersection and that results had been presented in a public meeting in 2008. His opinion had been that either option would function well, with each having its advantages and disadvantages. He said he had been directed by the county commission at that time to meet with owners of property in the area of the intersection and get their input.
Graham said that it appeared that the least impact on surrounding property owners would occur with the roundabout rather than the traffic light. He added that he believed the parking spaces to which Meadows had referred would also be eliminated with a traffic light, since there would be a need to add turn lanes with the light.
Meadows expressed additional concern about large trucks that would be traversing the traffic circle.
“I’m afraid it’s going to fail, and we’re going to have egg on our face,” she said of the roundabout.
District 3 Commissioner Bill Imfeld pointed out that the project had previously been approved and that expenses for it and the engineering contract had been approved in September 2012.
Mark Davis, temporary county attorney, advised that, since the roundabout project had been approved as a capital project by the county, a public hearing would be necessary to delete it from the capital projects list. He recommended a review of the project and its current status at that hearing.
The public hearing was scheduled for 3 p.m. on March 12 prior to the BCC regular meeting.