Housing developments approved, but can the roads handle the traffic
Housing developments in and around Zephyrhills are popping up at a rapid pace and more are on the way. As members of city council voted Monday for approval of additional developments, they continue to stress to the city planners to keep traffic demands as a top priority.
Simple city planning shows, more houses equal more people which leads to more cars on an already tight local infrastructure.
City council unanimously approved the final plat of four phases of the Abbott Park subdivision for 154 lots in the development behind Zephyr Commons. In recent months, the city approved the plans for 240-unit apartments within the Zephyr Commons Complex.
In addition, council voted to approve an ordinance for a planned unit development for Trotter’s Crossing, a 90-home development adjacent to Phelps Road and Abbott Square, a 173-acre development with more than 700 homes going up on the west side of Simons Road and north of Dean Dairy Road.
“It’s going to be a trick to play catch up,” said councilman Lance Smith said. “We are being reactive. Some things are in the planning stages, but the problem is, you can approve something, but it could be five years before they start it.
Smith praised the work of the city’s planning for thoroughly reviewing every step of the development process to ensure that every proposed development follows every city regulation.
Smith also asked the planning department to ensure that the city’s roads can handle the increase in traffic safely.
“I know our planning department has been extremely busy with a ton of these projects as they come through,” Smith said. “I know they are not an easy thing. I appreciate the job you are doing on those.
“What I want you to do is watch out for us on the traffic. I know you’re diligent, but just keep thinking about these traffic patterns. The volume of traffic we’re seeing is just continuing to grow.”
Smith noted that the recent intersection improvements at CR 54 and US 301 has helped tremendously in keeping traffic moving on those busy traffic arteries, but more needs to be done to keep up with the growth.
“Could you imagine if we didn’t do that?” Smith added. “Where is the next one? We need to keep diligent. We just approved 150 lots and 750 more on Simons Road. We have to stay diligent on that.”
The city is work with the Florida Department of Transportation in installing a traffic signal and putting in turning lanes at the intersection of Pretty Pond and US 301 to help with the increase of traffic go to and from the Abbott Park development.
To curb traffic woes entering Eiland Boulevard from Simons Road, the developer and the city are planning a traffic signal and turn lanes at that intersection. Coupled with the current traffic light at Dean Dairy Road and Eiland Boulevard, it will assist in moving cars from the developments planned for that area.
Council President Charlie Proctor echoed Smith’s plea for careful monitoring of traffic related to the city’s growth.
“If you travel anywhere in the city in the evening, traffic is definitely an issue,” Proctor said. “It something to pay close attention to.”