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Ask Bungalower: Is the intersection of Summerlin and Washington getting a traffic light?

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UPDATE: CURRENT ESTIMATED COMPLETION DATE FOR THE DESIGN PROJECT IS FEBRUARY 2016, WITH CONSTRUCTION STARTING IN AUGUST 2016. 

Saw this on the City of Orlando project website.  Got any info on it?

– David Bain

The answer is, yes, a traffic light is indeed coming to the corner of Summerlin Avenue and Washington Street [GMap] in the Thornton Park district.

According to the City of Orlando it will be a “mast arm signal” as depicted in the graphic above.
There is plenty of utility coordination to be done with underground and overhead facilities before anything can be installed. The City estimates that they will need about six months for manufacturing and installation and are hoping to have something installed by the end of 2016.
The light is still being designed and will be ordered shortly.
UPDATE: In an effort to clarify the project, the City of Orlando recently reached out to us with a statement which we’ve included below.

This traffic light is being added specifically to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety.  

Unfortunately, we have noticed that with the four way stop as it is now, many vehicles do not fully stop and take notice of the entire intersection and roadway and our bicyclists and pedestrians.  As you know, this area is very lively and has a lot of pedestrian and bicycle activity.
Red traffic lights further encourage drivers to actually stop vs. stop signs alone, so this light will certainly help increase visibility and motorists actually come to a complete stop. The light will also specifically include an “all pedestrian phase” so there will be no confusion to motorist as to has the right away and of course allow pedestrians and bicyclist to cross anywhere safely at this intersection.
Editor’s Note: An “all pedestrian phase” is also known as a “pedestrian scramble” or “diagonal crossing” which stops all vehicular traffic and allows pedestrians to cross an intersection in all directions at the same time. An example of this already in affect in Orlando is the intersection of Orange Avenue and South Street in front of City Hall.

 

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Brendan O'Connorhttps://www.brendanoconnor.me/
Editor in Chief of Bungalower.com

100 COMMENTS

  1. Makes sense but not a fan of the design. It’s a slow area you don’t need to be able to see the signal from 1/4 mile away like on a higher speed road. A more historic looking sign would fit Thornton Park better?

  2. It’s fine the way it is. The reason that intersection is safe for all the people who cross is because cars take that intersection cautiously. A stoplight is going to give them reason to feel like the superior road user and start flying through that intersection.

  3. Stephen V Alianiello that’s not the official design featured. It’s just an in-house rendering of what it COULD look like.

  4. Seriously needed since the pedestrian caution signs have vanished without being replaced. I have almost been hit multiple times there from people not yielding to pedestrians!

  5. Stop light is expensive and stupid. Just make it a 4-way stop or leave it alone and put in more ped friendly infrastructure.

  6. … mix feelings; however, i am about safety before aesthetics. hopefully, they’ll be discrete with the actual output. U0001f6a6

  7. My puppy and I were almost run over at this intersection by a woman on her phone. She got so close to me I slammed my hand on her hood to make her stop. However, I wouldn’t like to see a light there.

  8. I’m afraid a light isn’t going to stop the ‘almost been hit multiple times’ thing. That is an unfortunate result of Orlando drivers all over the city.

  9. This is one of the most pedestrian-friendly intersections in downtown Orlando. More cars stop for this crosswalk than anywhere else. A stoplight is going to cause more congestion along Summerlin and, when the light is green, pedestrians will be ignored and cars will travel through at 35 mph instead of slowing down like they do right now. I lived right by this intersection, ate at Wild Side and Anthony’s all the time. I studied urban design so I paid attention to that intersection. And I had breakfast at Benjamin Bakery every morning and made a left onto Summerlin from Washington during morning rush hour everyday after I moved from downtown to Delaney Park. A stoplight is a bad investment for this intersection and an unnecessary cost to taxpayers.

  10. You think people with a green light are going to stop for pedestrians? It’s going to eliminate the fact that most people slow down when approaching this intersection and encourage them to speed up and catch the green.

  11. It’s a common misconception that traffic signals improve safety. In some cases they don’t. The purpose of a signal is to assign right-of-way.

  12. And that’s exactly what makes it a safe intersection for people. It’s easier to cross and easier to pull out from Washington because drivers approach cautiously. Putting in a light will just reinforce their right of way and it’ll become a higher-speed intersection.

  13. I think it is a horrible decision to add a light. It doesn’t need it and I think will make traffic worse. Need to find an alternative plan to divert people off that road that are using it for 408 access.

  14. Inconsistent city “rules.” I know of several neighborhood associations who have been asking for traffic lights for years throughout downtown. The answer often given, “we’ll do a study, but the traffic levels need to be the same on all four points on the intersection for a light.” Although pedestrian safety is needed at this intersection, I highly doubt traffic is the same on Summerlin vs. Washington. Personally, I don’t think a light is the solution.

  15. What a stupid waste of money. Just drop a pair of stop signs on summerlin and call it a day. Some people already stop to be safe

  16. What would be fabulous is to not have this light. The reason cars don’t pass through this intersection at high speed, even when they have right of way, is that they are currently cautious about having to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and cars pulling out from Washington. This is one of the most pedestrian-friendly intersections downtown because of the fact the current design encourages a slow approach. Installing a stoplight will reinforce the right of way of drivers, making the now slow intersection into a 35mph+ pass through while sacrificing the rights of pedestrians in a completely pedestrian-oriented business district, who will now have to wait through light cycles. The higher speeds and reduced pedestrian focus will have a negative impact on all the businesses east of Summerlin. I can’t imagine there is an urban designer anywhere who would think this would be a wise idea for a district whose success is predicated on its walkability.

  17. This would be totally unnecessary if it weren’t for the fact that people don’t know how to drive… A surprising # of people on Summerlin already treat it as a 4 way stop or a temporary parking space…

  18. A 4 way stop would be a much better solution than a stoplight. It’s already a generally slow speed area and there are enough pedestrians where people stop often.
    I have a hard time imagining this light fitting in with the character of the neighborhood.

  19. People are going to have to constantly spend 3 minutes waiting for the “beg button” to let them cross. It will make E. Washington that much more inconvenient and will jeopardize all the restaurants and businesses dependent on foot traffic from Lake Eola and downtown.

  20. This stoplight will reduce safety as cars will be given priority, drive through at higher speeds, and pedestrians will lose right of way. This is Orlando’s highest rated walkable neighborhood. This will be hugely detrimental for those businesses east of Summerlin

  21. It’s the “dicey”-ness of this intersection that makes it so safe. People wait before stepping into crosswalks to make sure traffic is stopping. Cars on Summerlin slow down to cautiously look for pedestrians and cross traffic from Washington. The stoplight is going to speed up cars, create more congestion during red lights, and reduce overall safety for everyone. It’s going to be terrible for businesses dependent on foot traffic. This is a step backward for Orlando’s most walkable neighborhood.

  22. Traffic signals in pedestrian neighborhoods (South Eola and Thornton Park have the highest walkability in Orlando) prioritize cars over pedestrians and people on bikes. Installing this signal is going to cause additional congestion on Summerlin during red lights, higher speeds through the intersection during green lights, and force pedestrians (who can currently cross at any time) to wait for the “beg button” to allow them to cross. It’s going to make E. Washington that much more inconvenient and negatively affect all the businesses that depend on foot traffic from Lake Eola and downtown. I haven’t come across a single urban designer or planner who supports this at all.
    It’s the “dicey”-ness of this intersection that causes most people to slow down as they approach (a good percentage of cars on Summerlin actually stop). That’s what makes this intersection one of the safest in downtown for pedestrians and why drivers stop at these crosswalks more than any other in downtown.

  23. I travel through that intersection a lot. There are far too many people who do not yield to pedestrians making it an unsafe intersection. Also too many cars stop when they shouldn’t causing confusion and delays.

  24. ^^ that’s what makes the intersection safer. People slow down on Summerlin because of the potential for pedestrians to cross and the traffic coming off Washington. Pedestrians also take caution because they know not everyone stops. Once the light is installed, ZERO cars will stop for pedestrians when they have a green light and they’ll be driving far faster because they won’t have to worry about cross traffic either. Speeds through the intersection are going to go way up, congestion when theres a red light is going to spike making traveling through less efficient, and pedestrians are going to have to wait several minutes every time they want to cross instead of having priority like they do now. It’s going to kill business east of Summerlin.

  25. You think its going to be safer when drivers have a green light and can go through at 35 mph without even looking to see if theres cross traffic or people walking? If you sit at Wild Side you can watch and see that a huge percentage of drivers slow down when they approach this intersection (not all, but most). Once there’s a traffic light, cars will have priority and they’ll be no reason to slow down. It’s going to make a higher-speed intersection and pedestrians are going to be left standing for 3 minutes at a time waiting for the “beg button” to let them cross.

  26. Exactly. Thornton Park and South Eola are the highest ranking neighborhoods in Orlando for walkability. The businesses on East Washington absolutely depend on being pedestrian-oriented to survive. Putting in a stoplight gives priority to the cars driving through over the people walking and spending money in the neighborhood. It’s going to increase traffic speed through the intersection, red lights will cause congestion on Summerlin, and pedestrians will be forced to wait between light cycles to get to neighborhood businesses, making it less convenient. It’s going to be hugely detrimental to businesses dependent on Lake Eola and downtown foot traffic. That’s precisely why every urban planner and designer is against it.

  27. Not sure one can say that, but perhaps. (When I wrote that signals don’t improve safety, I was speaking generally, not just for peds.) There has been only one reported crash at that intersection going back to 2007 (before some of the signage improvements were made and enforcement efforts put into place). And that crash involved a left turning motorist hitting a ped crossing Washington.
    What it will certainly do is create delay for peds, as they’ll have to wait for the signal to cross.

  28. A four way intersection needs at least stop signs. How many pedestrians have been hit here? Many apparently. They never consider signals until a few people die.

  29. Drivers absolutely slow down approaching this intersection. Sit at Wild Side or Anthony’s and watch the traffic coming up to the intersection. Hell, about 25% of the cars on Summerlin actually stop. More people yield to pedestrians at these crosswalks than anywhere else in downtown.

  30. Sam you’re right, this is one of the spots that it feels safest crossing. People do stop more often, sometimes you will even see people yield when no one is trying to cross.

  31. It’s literally the safest intersection for pedestrians in Orlando. It’s the only one I can think of where people regularly slow down on their approach and regularly yield to those waiting to cross. If we install a stoplight, all that safety goes away.

  32. No images yet:) They will also be adding 2 more crosswalks to the area with the four that are already there. You will be able to cross diagonally, example: Cross from Anthony’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant to Wildside Bar & Grille, and from 7 Eleven to Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming Thornton Park. As soon as I get images of the light I will share with you Bungalower!

  33. Also happening in 2016 a much needed crosswalk on Central Blvd crossing over from Eola Drive right by the entrance to Lake Eola Park. Right now there are only crosswalks walking down Central Blvd crossing over Eola Drive…hope that makes sense!

  34. I think it’s the worst. I have seen so many cars go so fast through this. In my observations people driving through here are oblivious that pedistrians have the right of way

  35. I’ll be glad to see the crosswalks on Central and Eola, but this stoplight is unnecessary and having diagonal crosswalks means that traffic cycles are going to be longer. This is a small neighborhood intersection and a scramble crossing is ridiculous. I guarantee you that if you spoke to any urban designer, urban/regional planner, or anyone who is a professional in environments for people, they will be against this light. I would like to find 1, just one single person in any of those fields that supports this – or even that thinks it won’t be a detriment to business on Washington. I know tons of urban planners and designs and they’re all against this. Surely someone can find one in the field that supports it?!

  36. And how is taking away the right of way of pedestrians going to help that? How is telling drivers “you are the superior road user, here is your green light” going to slow traffic? It absolutely won’t which is why all the urban planners and designers I have talked to are adamantly against this.

  37. Trying crossing Orange Avenue, Rosalind, Robinson, or any other street as a pedestrian whenever you like. Either you are forced to wait by traffic signals or cars won’t stop for you. Name another intersection with a crosswalk that you can step out into more easily than this one. Just name any intersection anywhere in downtown along a decently busy road that has crosswalk for pedestrians where more people stop and yield…

  38. Can we be renamed to City Lights bc of all the unnecessary, long, not in sync lights we have? Make it a 4 way stop and hold people accountable for actually paying attention when driving.

  39. This was entirely designed by a traffic engineer working on the level of service (LOS) for cars on Summerlin. The light is designed to make cars drive faster on Summerlin Avenue and get past E. Washington (and past the businesses on Washington) as fast as possible. Anyone with a business on E. Washington that relies on foot traffic from Lake Eola and downtown should definitely speak out against this. It’s going to definitely reduce the pedestrian traffic in that area.
    Some of the world’s most successful urban spaces where traffic is concerned are “shared spaces” where there is no signaling nor curbs separating cars, bikes, and people. It requires that all road users be engaged in what they’re doing, pay attention to everyone else, and travel cautiously.
    If you think about it, just about everyone does or has texted while driving. You’re more likely to allow yourself to be distracted (like texting) when you’re on streets with wider lanes, less pedestrians, and you have green lights giving you the right-of-way through intersections. Coming up on this particular intersection, you’re more likely to slow down, remain aware of your surroundings, and look out for pedestrians and cross traffic pulling out. That’s what makes streets safe, is designing them to require all road users to be paying attention to one another. Pedestrians wait before entering crosswalks because cars may not stop. Cars slow on Summerlin because people may try to cross or cars may pull out of Washington. And the slower vehicles in the intersection allow more people to cross or turn off Washington without having to have a dedicated signal.

  40. The fundamental question is what problem are they trying to solve? If it’s safety, have there been crashes? If it’s convenience, then convenience for whom?

  41. Having frequented that corner when at Urban ReThink, I think the problem was in the pedestrian walkways. They are slightly raised and a different texture on all FOUR sides. It reads (to a driver) as a four way stop, but Summerlin does not have to stop. So some do (rear-ended) and others pause and then go (t-boned). Saw it happen more than once !!

  42. You sure care a lot. I actually own a business on that intersection and it sucks to walk or drive. Anything is better than nothing.

  43. It’s absolutely not a fantasy. If you sit and watch traffic cars consistently slow down when approaching that intersection. If your business was really centered around people living in walkable neighborhoods, you wouldn’t be advocating to prioritize through traffic of cars over the people that live and spend money walking through the neighborhood. You don’t have to take my word for it, even though I studied urban design, you can ask any urban design or regional planner that knows the area. There are plenty of them around, just ask.

  44. Well I’m invested in my community, which is why I started Central Floridians for Smart Growth. We’ve gotten together a lot of great people; from engaged citizens, to local leaders, to urban planners and designers; who discuss, promote, learn, and advocate (for or against) investments in our community. Not one of them (including the multiple people who are urban planning professionals) supports this idea.

  45. I lived by that intersection and both driven and walked on a daily basis to Benjamin Bakery every morning. I had regular lunches at Dexter’s and got my haircut at Vamp. I have spent many many evenings sitting outside at Anthony’s and Wildside watching that intersection. As someone who knows that intersection incredibly well, and someone who has studied urban design and how our infrastructure impacts walkability and productivity of our streets, I can assure you that this stoplight is detrimental to walkability. The success of local businesses, especially restaurants, and the property values of local homes in this neighborhood are predicated on pedestrian-oriented approaches to our urban design.

  46. Convenience for cars trying to drive past Thornton Park on Summerlin. Safety for no one. Pedestrians completely left out of the equation.

  47. So we’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist by prioritizing cars over people in what’s currently Orlando’s top (and one of it’s only) walkable neighborhoods. Brilliant use of tax dollars…

  48. Anything is not better than nothing. Watch what you wish for. This measure is being done to increase automobile traffic flow on Summerlin (AKA more capacity) – no question about that, which as a side effect, will impact negatively the walkability of this area.

  49. Maybe this is the right time to consider and compare alternatives such as a four-way stop or a raised intersection. The raised intersection would come up at a higher cost, but let’s not forget that installing a traffic signal cost no less than 200K. This intersection must be one of the few intersections that pedestrians feel the most safe in Downtown because the context is also telling drivers to slow down. Is not the stop sign alone; is the bricked streets, the buildings close to the street, etc – the pedestrian scaled environment – what makes people behave different at this location. This proposed traffic light will only make drivers focus more on the actual light and less on the surrounding.

  50. ^^Not if the light turns quickly on-demand like the traffic light crossing Robinson in front of Howard. Crossing there on foot is like a dream even though Robinson is fours lanes of crazy-busy.

  51. I agree the light is a dumb idea. People already randomly stop going north/south and whenever they do I lay on the horn.

  52. I think it’s gonna be one of those signals on demand. One that only changes when a pedestrian pushes the button. It’ll probably slow down traffic less than a 4 way stop.

  53. 2 years to repave Bumby! The traffic in our neighborhood is ridiculous right now, because of the closure. Ferncreek and Mills are parking lots.

  54. A for way stop would actually help the cross traffic (Washington). But I think they are proposing a full on signaled intersection.

  55. Interesting the city mentions in their statement the intersection is now a 4-way stop. It isn’t, though lots of motorists seem to also think so for some reason.

  56. Still a dumb idea. First, this is fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. There hasn’t been an incident with people walking since 2007. More importantly, it gives priority of the area over to cars – even though this is our most pedestrian-friendly part of town. All you have to do is ask yourself which road user will now have to push a button for permission to cross to understand who is losing right-of-way here.
    As far as safety, many cars slow when approaching this intersection now (some even stop) which makes it easier for pedestrians to cross and allows them to have right of way whenever they come to the intersection. Now cars will speed through, trying to catch the green light.
    These are two small, narrow streets. People have always been able to cross whenever they want. Having the light isn’t going to change behavior at this intersection in a heavy foot-traffic area, and people will continue to cross, without waiting 3-5 minutes for a walk signal. What will change is that cars will now be going twice as fast coming through the intersection. Considering a person struck at 20mph has a 90% chance of survival and that drops down to only 10% when the car is going 40 mph, the increased speed of the cars through this intersection is incredibly dangerous.
    People are smart enough to watch the behavior of cars and pedestrians approaching to avoid conflict. I know when I can step out without coming in front of a driver who is unlikely to stop. We are smart enough to observe behavior. Same for drivers approaching pedestrians. This is proven in the fact we haven’t had a pedestrian struck in nearly a decade there. This is just telling us we’re not smart enough to handle walking and operating our vehicles on our own. I think I’m smart enough to walk across Summerlin Ave in Thornton Park without the city’s help.

  57. What’s more interesting is that the city uses the fact not all drivers stop as a justification of this signal, when drivers don’t stop because it’s not a 4-way and they don’t have to. What they do, more typically, is slow down in case people step out into the crosswalk or someone pulls out from Washington.
    I get that people don’t feel completely carefree driving or walking through this intersection, but that’s what makes it safe. The uncertainty of others road users behaviors makes people more aware of their surroundings and look for potential conflicts more. Once there’s a light, drivers will stop looking for pedestrians and people will step into crosswalks as soon as they get a walk sign, without looking to make sure cars are stopping.

  58. So let me get this straight. We need a light because people don’t stop at a stop sign that doesn’t exist.
    They refuse to enforce the yield law at this intersection.
    And they want to put up pedestrian controls so they don’t slow down the car traffic.

  59. Exactly. I drive through this intersection every single day and marvel at how safe it is precisely because people are not robotically following signals.

  60. Instead of spending, what I am assuming is, hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new light that just says “people walking, you’re too dumb to cross on your own” and “cars on summerlin, feel free to put the gas pedal,” we could put the “yield to pedestrians” signs back up on the yellow line and call it a day. We’re not all morons, we can figure out when it’s safe to step into a crosswalk.

  61. There is no current 4-way stop now.  Just 2-way with yellow blinking warning lights about yielding for peds, which half the cars do, and the other half text through the intersection.

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