The intersection of Old Dixie Highway with U.S. 1 at the White Eagle Lounge in Korona is among the most dangerous stretches of road in Flagler. In a three-year stretch between 2014 and 2017, the Sheriff’s Office has documented 207 crashes at or near the intersection, 147 of them resulting in injuries or deaths. That was before this year’s February crash that took five lives, and the crash Monday that killed a 60-year-old motorcyclist.
“There have now been six people killed this year at this intersection along with many injuries, some of which were life-altering,” Sheriff Rick Staly wrote Transportation Secretary Mike Dew on Tuesday (Nov. 21). “More recently since August 2017, there have been almost a dozen accidents at or near this intersection, most with injuries and one fatality.”
The sheriff was again writing the transportation secretary, as he had in February, to urge safety improvements at the intersection. He’d done likewise last February, when he wrote the then-interim transportation secretary. The County Commission endorsed the letter with a resolution. But to little effect.
Other than painting stripes on asphalt, adding a few plastic reflectors and repairing medians and signage every time it’s damaged by a crash, the state Department of Transportation has done little to improve safety at the intersection, though it has long-term plans that could significantly do so: the transportation department is planning a roundabout at the intersection. But that will require land acquisition, design and construction that could take years. The roundabout is not listed on the department’s five-year program for Flagler.
“How many more lives we have to lose while FDOT prepares or engineers a solution that’s two or three years down the road?” Staly said in an interview Tuesday.
The department knows it has a problem intersection. It completed a “composite study” of the intersection weeks before the February crash. The document was based on the observations of an engineer, combined with traffic and traffic-crash data. It concluded that traffic on U.S. 1 was not very heavy, which may be why no traffic light was recommended.
It made a few recommendations, among them new striping. It recommended closing a median break at Trojan Road, just north of the White Eagle. That was only partly done: traffic from Trojan Road or the White Eagle may no longer make a left onto U.S. 1 south, but southbound traffic from U.S. 1 may still turn onto Trojan Road. The recommendation that the asphalt shoulder along the White Eagle’s parking lot be replaced with a grassy shoulder was not followed.
In his letter Tuesday Staly reiterated some of his previous recommendations and made new ones. He acknowledged that crashes are the result of human error. But he said in the letter the addition of reflecting markers along the median “have just added to driver confusion and clutter,” and in an interview stressed that a combination of factors at the intersection amplifies dangers, making human error more likely.
The speed limit on that stretch is 65, with no traffic lights between Seminole Woods Boulevard to the north and Plantation Bay to the south. Staly says drivers usually exceed the speed limit there.
He is proposing additional signage that warns of a dangerous intersection ahead. He suggests dropping the speed limit to 45 in the area of the curve around the White Eagle intersection. “While I do not believe lowering the speed limit is a viable long-term solution because neither [the Florida Highway Patrol] or my agency have sufficient resources to enforce and change driver behavior,” Staly wrote the transportation secretary, “if FDOT is intent on installing a round-about this would begin to educate drivers on the lower speeds that are needed for a round-about to be successful.”
He also recommended eliminating one of the two stop signs that appear in rapid succession at Old Dixie Highway and County Road 325, and installing a traffic light at the intersection. Absent the light, signage on Old Dixie westbound, indicating that cross traffic does not stop on U.S. 1, as well as for U.S. 1 southbound that turns east on Old Dixie, is necessary, he said.
“I again request that FDOT work on an interim solution while you design a long-term solution,” the sheriff concluded.
The full letter is below.
Just the truth says
Mike Dew what will it take for you to do what is right for pubic safety? Please listen to our Sheriff Staly.
We do not want to see more deaths occur at this intersection, start listening.
” It concluded that traffic on U.S. 1 was not very heavy, which may be why no traffic light was recommended”. But, they put a traffic light at Seminole Woods and Belle Terre! GO FIGURE?
Same thought from me: Mr Mike Dew please install a traffic light on that deadly intersection. How many more lives do we have to loose?
Mike Dew Telephone: 850-414-4100 . What about we all call him on the need of a traffic light in the White Eagle corner of US1 in support of our Sheriff request too.
Kathy A says
Dear Sheriff Staly: I hope that Secretary Cone takes your letter seriously. Losing one life is too many and the time to make improvements to this deadly intersection is NOW. Your letter has made it very clear about the tragedies that have taken place and offers as well, solutions to make the improvements and save further loss of life. I pray that your voice is heard.
A round-a-bout would be a disaster in this area. The round-a-bout in Town Center is, and people are always confused and zipping through it hoping for the best. I was in Deland this week and experienced a round about there that had recently been implemented and it was down right dangerous. If some unfortunate person is injured or loses their life because of it I hope they hold DOT responsible. NO ROUND-A-Bouts!!!
When they put all the traffic lights in on US-1 a few years ago, why would they exclude the most dangerous intersection with the most crashes? Traffic lights aren’t exactly new technology, so it should not be too difficult.
Concern citizen says
I live in old dixie highway and i use this route daily and i highly recommend for our officials to put up a real traffic light on this intersection instead of this useless caution light that people didnt pay attention to coz everytime i need to go southbound its hard for me to make a left because cars are speeding in US 1 all the time. Please put up a real traffic light on this area theres already 5 big crosses to remind all of us how dangerous this area is. Praying that our needs in this area will be heard
Concerned Driver says
This has been going on far too long. A roundabout is a ridiculous idea, people can’t even properly use the ones we have now. Also the article states that since there isn’t much traffic on US1 they did not think a light was necessary. That is possible, however it isn’t due to not much traffic on US1 its on the side streets. There is just as much if not more traffic on US1 when you get up to Seminole Woods where there is a light. Either way I have been here for almost 20 years, a light there is more than overdue.
Fat Boy says
A roundabout. Where there is a corner in the road. Where the posted speed limit in the area is 65mph. Are you kidding me? Sounds like that is long time coming & will take a lot of money to purchase land and put up flashing lights to slow vehicles down before entering the roundabout. Do the right thing and put up a traffic light NOW.
While you’re in the area, put up a traffic light at US1 and Matanzas Woods Parkway, another disaster waiting to happen, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours.
“While I do not believe lowering the speed limit is a viable long-term solution because neither [the Florida Highway Patrol] or my agency have sufficient resources to enforce and change driver behavior,” Staly wrote the transportation secretary, “if FDOT is intent on installing a round-about this would begin to educate drivers on the lower speeds that are needed for a round-about to be successful.”
Would enforcing a lower speed limit use more resources than responding to,investigating and documenting 207 crashes in the last 3 years,147 of which resulted in deaths or injuries?
Roll on 2 says
Maybe it’s time to bring back 55 on all non Interstate highways! Also, there are no rumble strips before the intersection at US1.
How about flashing warning sign saying slow down dangerous intersection ahead.
The Geode says
Sheriff Staley – “He acknowledged that crashes are the result of human error”. …yet it’s the intersection’s fault. At what point do we accept responsibility for OUR actions? At what point do we STOP depending on the “government” to police common sense? (while crying about too much government)
John dolan says
A light MUST BE INSTALLED. Drivers fly thru the intersection with no caution . Total disregard for caution lights.
Of all the deaths and accidents at this location please tell us who was at fault and why. I would be willing to bet it was people trying to get out on the highway hoping to beat the oncoming traffic rather than just wait till it was clear. This place is clearly marked and there is no excuse for lights or round a bouts. Law enforcement needs to patrol in this are and making people realize they need to obey the devices that are currently there. If people did, none of these tragity’s would be happening. Lights won’t stop the car…..the driver’s need to be stopped!
Too many deaths. No acceptable. My suggestion is not a pleasant one – multiple speed bumps to slow down traffic. Once a better solution is made, they should remain.
Concerned Citizen says
The Geode makes a good point.
You can make demands for safety features all you want. You can lower the speed limit and put lights in all day. Nothing is going to change until we do. It’s our job to do the right thing behind the wheel. Driving is a privilege and not a right.
Like the other Concerned citizen pointed out I to drive this route daily. I drive a commercial vehicle for a company that has zero tolerance for cell phone usage and traffic infractions. And I am grateful for it. It has helped me become a safer driver.
I see people constantly pass by doing at least 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. And the aggressive/distracted driving is a constant presence. Especially tailgating from unhappy drivers who don’t like you doing the posted speed limit.
As someone who has retired from Law Enforcement and Fire Rescue I have seen the adverse effects of distracted/reckless driving. Trust me when I tell you that text can wait and you don’t need a device in your face while zipping down the road doing 20 over.
Posted speed limits are not suggestions folk. Neither are traffic signals or signs. If you don’t have the right of way yield it. Don’t try and make it. It usually doesn’t work out !! And how about not riding someone’s bumper?? It doesn’t make them go any faster nor does it save you time.
What this stretch of road really needs is heavy Law Enforcement presence. While it’s not their job to teach you how to drive right at least they can slow people down and point out the error of your ways. Maybe a few tickets here and there will hit pockets hard enough to make people think.
I dont get it. If you’re on the side road, and cars are coming on us1, DONT GO!!!!! Its simple. Traffic on us1 isnt required to stop there. The intersection isnt dangerous, the people are. You can clearly see in both directions. Dont dart out. Period.
The place is adequately marked and has plenty of signage….people need to start obeying the traffic devices in place. If you don’t, then you know what the result is going to be. What’s the hurry??? Police need to patrol in this area and start issuing some tickets to violators and then they can see what the problem is. Don’t ask DOT for something you don’t even know you need–use what you have first!