News from the Roundabout - North Spring-to-Spring Segment Update: De Leon Springs to Blue Springs

One day you will be able to ride the St Johns River-to-Sea Loop safely from De Leon Springs to Blue Springs to DeBary Station to Green Springs and beyond.  But that time is not yet.  The St Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance is working hard to make this dream a reality.  Here's the current status as of Dec 2016.

Here is the current SUN Trail map. It shows the trail existing between De Leon Springs and Blue Springs.  Here's the reality - this trail is far from complete.  If you follow the map traveling south from Deleon Springs you will encounter this situation where Grand Avenue crosses Highway 44 west of Deland.   

Note:  If you are riding between De Leon and Blue Springs, until this situation is resolved, do not follow the map between Minnesota Avenue and W. Beresford Avenue - instead follow the Roundabout Detour Map below taking Ridgewood Avenue instead of Grand Avenue.  

The News Journal online published this report on Dec 2, 2016.  

http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20161202/traffic-pattern-shifts-at-deland-roundabout-site

The article says "The new roundabout is designed to reduce accidents, but has left some motorists skeptical." Motorists aren't the only skeptics - the photos below (taken on 12/3/16) show how it looks now to a cyclist heading south on the SJR2C Loop route from De Leon Springs to Blue Springs. There is no way through at all now - the entire route south on Grand Avenue to cross Highway 44 is blocked. So if you follow the map you must choose to either work your way around the blockage or ride all the way back to Minnesota Avenue.  

But even once you get across the highway it doesn't look promising... the jury is still out on whether the roundabout will make this section of the trail safer or more dangerous to cyclists.  The route heading south looks like that worst situation - no shoulder and steep curb... we need to know what is intended here because it doesn't look good. 

So until this is resolved, if you're heading south following the SJR2C Loop route don't take Grand Avenue - take Minnesota east to Ridgewood and turn south on Ridgewood as shown in the map. There is no sign to guide you at the intersection of Minnesota and Grand Avenues but if you take Grand Avenue south, once you get down to SR 44 you are stuck.

Here is the full text of the news article

[DELAND — Florida Department of Transportation officials are urging motorists at State Road 44 and Grand Avenue to use extra caution as they work to make the deadly intersection safer.

The first traffic shifts at the $1.93 million roundabout project have begun, Jennifer Horton, a department spokeswoman, announced at a news conference Friday. The new roundabout is designed to reduce accidents, but has left some motorists skeptical.

Public safety officials ordered construction two days after a DeLeon Springs woman and her three grandchildren were killed in an April 5 collision — one of dozens of crashes there in the past five years.

Sandra Lopes was driving east toward DeLand on State Road 44 with her grandchildren in a Jeep Wrangler when state troopers say a sport-utility vehicle cut into her path at the intersection of Grand Avenue, leading to her vehicle colliding with the SUV, rolling over, and then catching fire.

A reminder of the tragic deaths could be seen Friday in the form of a street-side memorial across the road from the construction zone. And despite the memorial’s plea to “Drive Safely,” vehicles rushed past.

The current speed limit in the construction zone is 40 mph and Horton said that limit is expected to carry over into the single-lane roundabout when it is complete.

As Horton spoke, construction crews moved earth and supplies around partially complete walkways.

The project — which replaces a two-way stop — is set to include ADA-compliant ramps, lighting and landscaping and sidewalks.

“It’s an 8-foot sidewalk,” Horton said of some features planned for those with disabilities. “So it’s large enough for you to be able to cross the street safely regardless of your mobility needs.”

The roundabout will include bicyclist and pedestrian friendly features, with landscaping to beautify the area.

And while she said public safety was the main concern for building it, it was developed with the Spring-to-Spring Trail — a 26-mile path under construction from Gemini Springs in DeBary to DeLeon Springs — in mind. The trail is expected to eventually find its path near the intersection.

But public safety is the top priority, Horton said, citing a study that states roundabouts contribute to a 71-percent drop in vehicle incidents when they are implemented.

Not everyone is convinced it’s such a good idea.

Paul Bishop and partner Charlotte Dickens are snowbirds from up New York State who winter near Minnesota Avenue. They were in DeLand when Lopes and her family were killed. But, like many in the DeLand area, they're not yet sure the roundabout will bring the desired results.

"I’ve never liked roundabouts," Dickens said.

"I’m kind of shocked that they’re doing that," Bishop said, adding, "I could be wrong, but it seems like they’re more confusing. It may be one lane, but still, somebody’s got to yield”

FDOT’s Horton, who visited a similar roundabout in Lake County to observe the traffic there, believes the finished product will win people over in DeLand.

"We have a lot of data now, but we went and we observed," she said. "I've seen three or four tractor-trailers in a roundabout. It works. I've seen bicyclists. They own the lane, and it's perfect.

"The next time we shift traffic back will be very close to the opening," Horton said, adding that the projected target date for completion is in March.

And Project Manager Jared Peltz added: "It will be a half roundabout for a short period of time."]