THE ISSUE: State Road 200/County Road 491 intersection.
OUR OPINION: An accident waiting to happen.
In any road system, intersections are planned points of conflict. As such, they present major road safety challenges, as evidenced by the statistical data that in the United States an average of one-quarter of traffic fatalities and roughly half of all traffic injuries occur at intersections.
For motorists accessing State Road 200 via County Road 491, S.R. 200’s 55 mph speed limit combined with a difficult sight line from C.R. 491 makes the intersection an accident waiting to happen.
During Citrus County Commission Chairman Jeff Kinnard’s recent visit to the Chronicle Editorial Board, discussions with the board prompted a question as to the prospects for a traffic light at the
S.R. 200/C.R. 491 intersection. Noting the question, Kinnard said he would bring it to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to see if there was any interest in raising it at a meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
Chairman Kinnard brought the question forward at the Sept. 24 BOCC meeting. However, despite the safety of citizens being the acknowledged core responsibility of government at all levels of governance, the question was given short shrift rather than a fair hearing.
Commissioner Scott Carnahan’s posturing set the discussion tone for the BOCC with his immediate, disdainful dismissal of the question, saying that he didn’t realize the Chronicle Editorial Board is an expert on traffic lights and asserting that “I’m not going to have the editorial board force an issue on us.”
Commissioner Carnahan — it was a question — not an edict! Furthermore, your chairman voluntarily offered to bring it to the BOCC.
Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith got on the bandwagon by saying the intersection only presents a potential danger to motorists during peak travel hours. Motorists traveling the intersection during either peak or non-peak travel hours should not take comfort from this pearl of wisdom.
Not to be outdone by his fellow commissioners, Commissioner Ronald Kitchen chimed in with his curt dismissal of the question.
The one bright spot in kicking the editorial board question down the road was Commissioner Brian Coleman. Although he agreed with his fellow commissioners to not take the matter to the MPO, he exhibited the rationality to give the traffic light question a fair hearing by volunteering to gather traffic and crash information for the intersection to see if it’s warranted.
Whether or not the statistical data would support a traffic light at the S.R. 200/C.R. 491 intersection is a moot point given Carnahan’s comment that the indeterminable cost and time to widen the S.R. 200 bridge and roadway must come before the low hanging fruit of a traffic light.
With county commissioners allowing their personal feelings to pooh-pooh a traffic light at S.R. 200/C.R. 491, the answer to the question raised by the Chronicle Editorial Board is that the intersection will continue to be an accident waiting to happen for the foreseeable future.
Editor’s note: As of deadline, four out of every five people who voted in the Chronicle’s online poll agreed the intersection needs a light.