SEBRING — Officials for Sun ‘N Lake of Sebring Special Improvement District have changed the speed limits on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.
Everything south of Nadena Drive will be 25 mph, which includes the Sun ‘N Lake Elementary School school bus entrance, Covenant Presbyterian Church and the AdventHealth Sebring daycare, all of which are in close proximity to each other.
The rest of the road, north from Nadena to the U.S. 27 junction across from Wild Turkey Tavern, will be 30 mph, according to district staff when they presented the plan to the Board of Supervisors, who all consented in favor of the plan on Friday.
The change came about as a result of a previous board meeting in December, where Board President Neal Hotelling discussed how the speed limit had already been changed on Ponce de Leon from 30 mph to 25 mph. He and other board members asked that all future speed limit proposals come to them first before any changes are made.
The Board also asked Facilities and Security Director Mike Hurley — who fields the majority of residents’ speed complaints — to bring back a recommendation regarding the speed on Ponce de Leon. Last Friday, he said his recommendation was based on the higher amount of pedestrian traffic on Ponce de Leon, south of Nadena.
Other “spine” roads in the Sun ‘N Lake Special Improvement District also saw speed limit reductions from 30 mph to 25 mph, such as Columbus Boulevard, Minorca Drive, Granada Avenue, Cortez Boulevard, Balboa Boulevard and Ortega Street. Each one has 10-foot lanes with drop curbs in a 70-foot right of way.
When Traffic Planning and Design (TPD) did a study of the District in August 2019, those roads were 30 mph, but Cortez, Columbus, Granada and Minorca speed limits got changed in the last year to 25 mph. District General Manager Tanya Cannady told supervisors those roads would soon return to 30 mph.
However, discussion of Columbus Boulevard at the last meeting indicated that supervisors may be OK with keeping Columbus at 25 mph, after Hurley explained that the road has heavy golf cart traffic and children walking to a bus stop.
“If we can keep the speed down, it would be safer for everyone,” Hurley said.
Supervisors also brought up concerns about some people going around the speed bumps on some roads, usually in golf carts, and having to put up traffic bollards to keep people from running their vehicles into the grass.
Tom Kosty, resident, asked if traffic engineers were asked to do an “80th percentile” study on the roads to determine what was the most commonly-driven speed. They had not.
Kosty then asked about a $20,000 speed detection cart that the District had purchased and asked whether or not it was in use or its data was being factored into new speed limits. In the end, he said he didn’t believe they were utilizing it.
Bill Norcross, another resident, said Columbus was 35 mph approximately 15 years ago and is a lot safer at 25 mph, but said the real problem comes from the “shotgun starts” at the golf course each morning. It would be good to tell people in the carts to avoid Columbus during early morning commute times.
Supervisors questioned who would be informed of that, and how. Early morning golfers, they said, could be residents but might also be visitors who do not get the District newsletter, but conceded that that information could be passed out to people who rent the carts upon sign up that morning.
Sun ‘N Lake is a golf cart community, meaning people on golf carts are allowed to use the main roads within the District and motorists must give them equal consideration. However, golf cart riders may not take their carts onto roads outside the District.