If you missed it in the July 15 Herald, the Florida-T intersection at Green Road and Crabapple Road near downtown Crabapple will soon be no more.
As GDOT repaves Crabapple, the Florida-T intersection, which was installed just over two years ago, will be deleted. Essentially, the intersection will regress to its former state, just with some added turn lanes.
And as someone who traverses the intersection several times a week, this is an absolute shame.
The Florida-T has made the Green/Crabapple intersection far safer. I don’t have crash statistics to back up that statement, but anyone who regularly turns left from Green onto Crabapple is sure to agree. The landing area on Crabapple allowed drivers to, essentially, only cross one direction of travel at a time versus the “good luck, guy” sign that might as well have been posted before the intersection improvement.
While safety should be paramount in any traffic project, another magnificent benefit of the Florida-T was in traffic moving far much more freely through the area once it was installed.
Long backups along Green Road were constant throughout the day before intersection was improved, especially in the morning and afternoon rush hours. This was exacerbated by people being overly cautious about crossing several lanes of traffic, something they don’t have to do currently.
Before the improvement, traffic along Crabapple heading toward downtown Crabapple would be snarled every time someone needed to turn left onto Green. After the Florida-T was installed, severe backups were practically non-existent, only really occurring when drivers on Green Road approached the intersection for the first time and had no idea what to do.
GDOT calls this “driver expectancy.” Essentially, the organization noted that many drivers didn’t know how to traverse a Florida-T. But that’s no reason to nullify a project that worked to solve the two major issues each traffic improvement project sets out to do — improve safety and traffic flow.
GDOT gave several other reasons for its decision to nullify the Florida-T, like drivers striking the curb, lack of a shoulder and lane widths. But frankly, these are crap reasons to nullify what was otherwise a beautiful bit of engineering that worked to mitigate problems. And the solution to just revert the intersection back to its previous state, plus a few turn lanes that will require drivers to cross another lane of traffic in certain situations is, well, something I can’t print in this newspaper.
Not to mention, Milton taxpayers dished out $275,000 for the project — $200,000 from GDOT and the rest directly from the city’s coffers. Now, imagine the new trail currently being constructed at Providence Park being torn up after two years.
If the Florida-T needs to be replaced, so be it. But it shouldn’t result in the state making the intersection more dangerous and less efficient at moving cars.
The intersection should remain as is until GDOT finds a better solution. It shouldn’t be made worse in the hopes of landing on something better. GDOT is cutting off its nose to spite its face.
Unfortunately, by the time you read this, the Florida-T may already be gone. And all drivers will have left are 27 months or so worth of memories of how much safer and better traffic used to flow while it was in place.