WINTER PARK, Fla. — A group of residents in Winter Park is trying to make State Road 426 safer for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
They’ve formed Fix426, an advocacy group pushing for the city of Winter Park and the Florida Department of Transportation to do more to improve the road, which goes by Aloma Avenue, among other names, in the city.
Fix426 member Tara Gaffey lives off the road, on what neighbors call Brewers Curve.
“I just graduated school, first house, newly engaged, and didn’t realize the road was so terrible until I had kids,” said Gaffey, who is a mother of two young boys. “And was like, ‘Oh my God, this is horrendous,’ and I literally broke down into tears when I was walking (my child in) the stroller down the S-curve.”
Even though there is a park across the street, she says she’d rather drive there than walk.
“Sometimes, I drive just so I can get over here to walk the dog and play with the kids,” Gaffey said.
Officials say there have been more than 640 crashes along this less than two mile stretch of State Road 426 since 2017.
An FDOT spokesman said the department was already planning a repaving project when they decided to work with community stakeholders to look at other improvements to the road, between Park and Lakemont avenues.
“(FDOT) is evaluating safety, pedestrian and bicyclist mobility, speed management, and traffic operations,” said FDOT community outreach specialist Tim Freed. “The next steps will include having a round of meetings with the city, the project visioning team and the public.”
Gaffey hopes Fix426 can work with the city and FDOT to come up with solutions to the speeding and heavy traffic.
“Safety is the goal, for residents to be able to commute in their cars, (and for) pedestrians and cyclists to be able to get from point A to point B without feeling like they’re going to get hit by a car,” she said.
Gaffey says her group is focused on stepping up patrols, and adding more pedestrian crossings and stop lights to make the road safer.
“We love walking to Park Avenue, but literally feel like we’re risking our lives every time,” she said.
FDOT officials say the project is funded for design in fiscal year 2024, with construction starting sometime in fiscal year 2026.