By Brian Yogodzinski
The direct access for the fire station on South Alafaya Trail will help saves lives by reducing response time, but where are the lights associated with the new entrance? The new entrance is an enhancement to fire station, but there was no forewarning that this change was going to occur, and as a result safety concerns exist for both the public and the fire station personnel.
The electronic signs noted new traffic patterns would occur on May 18th. That implied shifting of traffic lanes but not the addition of a new entrance. As such, the rapid appearance of EMS and fire vehicles directly accessing South Alafaya Trail was unanticipated. Traditionally, the rescue vehicles had to take an indirect path to Alafaya Trail. Drivers who live in the area were aware of this situation. That situation gave drivers more time to be aware of the entry of the rescue vehicles either by hearing them or seeing the flashing lights for a few more seconds than the current situation.
With the addition of the direct connection to Alafaya Trail, the rescue vehicles more rapidly reach their entry point on Alafaya Trail. Also, drivers approaching from the south can not see the rescue vehicles for the full entrance to Alafaya Trail due to trees and bushes that obscure that entry. This situation actually occurred on the 18th as the car in front of me and I were standing on our brakes while looking at the side of the EMS vehicle as it popped out on to Alafaya Trail at the new access point. Placement of the fire station warning signs did not help us notice the change, as the signs were so close to the entrance. Placement further from the entrance would have been more optimal.
Two things should have occurred. First, there should have been notification to the drivers that there would be a new entrance to the fire station incorporated at the time of the traffic pattern shift. This could have been accommodated by using electronic sings near the fire station prior to the lane shift on the 18th. Second, there should have been lights in place to stop traffic when rescue vehicles are entering Alafaya Trail. The first cannot be resolved as the new entrance is active. The second can and should be resolved by the County.
Brian Yogodzinski is a Mechanical Engineer from North Carolina State University with 25 years of experience, primarily in the power generation business. During that time he became a specialist in the area of Transportation Engineering for the movement of over-dimensional and over-weight components such as power plant generators, combustion turbines, and steam turbines, with typical components ranging from 110,000 pounds to 1,000,000 pounds. He has extensive experience working with state and local authorities to ensure regulation compliances and safe transit of these commodities in the public domain. He currently works for a firm that builds equipment for and constructs power plants.