SEBASTIAN – The Sebastian City Council is bracing for the public workshops to come following a presentation from engineers who believe the intersection at Barber Street and Schumann Drive needs to be expanded.
That work, if the city signs on, could require an estimated $1.2 million from the city to purchase 12 residential properties and relocate two homes to make way for the widened corridor. “My first reaction,” said Councilwoman Andrea Coy, “was ‘oh my god’ and it wasn’t a good ‘oh my god.”
She said the proposed plans, which call for adding dedicated right turn lanes and more left turn lanes, are “very scary.”
“I’m not saying it’s not needed,” Coy said of the additional lanes, but the expansion could make the intersection one of the largest, most massive in the city.
Engineer Brian Good, of Kimley-Horn Associates, said that the intersection at County Roads 510 and 512 is comparable to what they are proposing for Barber/Schumann.
The larger intersection is needed, according to engineers, because of Indian River County’s plans to widen 66th Avenue, which becomes Schumann Drive on its way into Sebastian’s city limits.
Widening 66th Avenue is expected to put more vehicles on the road in the future, creating further demand on that nexus.
Indian River County has received a grant from the state to be put toward construction of 66th Avenue. The county is willing to build the expanded intersection for the city in exchange for Sebastian handling the right-of-way acquisitions.
Under one proposed alignment for the intersection, the city could expect to spend approximately $1.2 million buying up the necessary land from 12 residential properties and relocate two homes. Under another plan, 21 residential properties, one commercial property, and five homes would be affected at an estimated cost of $1.9 million.
“I don’t think you’re even close,” Coy told the engineer, referring to the estimated right-of-way acquisition costs.
City Manager Al Minner told the council that the intersection work is needed in order to improve traffic flow in that part of town.
“We are not blessed,” he said of the city’s road network, explaining there is a lack of east-west corridors to help move motorists through.
He added, the “curse that we have” is many of the city’s main arterial roads are residential in nature, which requires high capacity but lower speeds.
“It becomes a really critical” intersection, Minner said.
Work on the intersection is a couple years out, though the city is expected to have the property acquired by Summer 2012 – if the city approves the intersection.
In the meantime, the Sebastian City Council has agreed to move forward with fact-finding and conducting public workshops to get input from residents. Those workshops have not yet been scheduled.