Editorial/Opinion – The intersection of Schumann Drive and U.S. Highway 1 has always been dangerous, with numerous vehicle crashes. But how do you make them safer for Sebastian residents?
Jan Verde started a campaign nearly two years ago to help make intersections safer after witnessing multiple collisions.
“In the spring of 2019, I began a campaign to make intersections safer for the residents of Sebastian. In particular, the intersection of Schumann Drive and US 1. I live in Reflections on the River, which is the east side of that intersection. I was increasingly disturbed by the number of traffic accidents occurring there, not to mention how poor the visuals are at that intersection and others around town,” Verde told Sebastian Daily.
She petitioned various agencies, traffic coordinators, state representatives, but to no avail. Nevertheless, Verde has attended meetings and written an untold number of emails.
“In the last two weeks, we have had two devastating accidents at this intersection. I know as you are reading this, you are probably nodding your heads in agreement that these intersections leave a lot to be desired when it comes to safety,” Verde explained.
And she’s right. Vehicle accidents are increasing, as our local population is booming, and we have a record number of tourists and part-time residents.
Some of the most dangerous intersections are Roseland Road and U.S. Highway 1, and somehow drivers are missing their turns at the intersection of Roseland Road and Sebastian Boulevard (CR-512).
There’s been an increase of accidents south of here on U.S. Highway 1 at different intersections, causing road closures three times during the past month.
And it’s not just in Indian River County either. Another tragic intersection is located in Micco at Main Street and U.S. Highway 1 in Brevard County. If you go farther north into Grant, there’s always a serious accident at Main Street and U.S. Highway near Rib City. Residents there want street lights at the two intersections.
But the intersection Verde is mentioning may get a lot busier as the county is getting ready to build an affordable housing apartment complex just north of Reflections on the River. The county will construct the apartments without any input from nearby Sebastian residents or city officials.
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The traffic problems are statewide, and similar complaints about dangerous intersections from almost every county in Florida. Some people blame the issues on bad crossroad designs; others say bad drivers are to blame.
Traffic Problems Related to Growth
Sebastian isn’t used to seeing all this recent traffic. I have never seen it this bad in the 22 years since I moved to the area permanently. I’ve been visiting the area for over 45 years. It used to be easy to pull out on U.S. Highway 1, with barely any vehicles on the roadways. Today, it’s like a challenge on when to pull out between waves of traffic.
Several residents now say we are in a bigger mess after a failed annexation last year caused by politicians who ran against it to get elected.
Since then, the citizens recalled the politicians, but we’re stuck with a growing problem, and it’s certainly not “smart growth” or “control growth.” The misinformation about the Sebastian, Florida annexation was so harmful we decided to debunk it with a city official.
Many residents that were against the annexation are now open to it. If the Graves Brothers decide not to offer the property again to the City of Sebastian, they will keep it in the county, and most citizens we talk to feel it will not serve Sebastian’s best interest.
The idea to annex was to keep the growth west of town and build their shopping centers, so that fewer vehicles would travel the roads to the east and into town.
Annexing into Sebastian also means that all new developments must comply with our local codes that protect our future. For example, no high risers or septic tanks, and the City will have a new tax base since the new neighbors will be using our local parks, docks, and boat ramps.
Can We Help Prevent Accidents?
We may have to all work together to prevent accidents. Our congested roads and intersections may be a little safer if we pay more attention to our driving. So let’s focus and stay off our cell phones while driving since it’s the law.
We don’t have to be in a hurry all the time either; we live in Sebastian. So we got nothing but time to be friendly and appreciate where we live.