Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Group hopes to present plan by year's end to eliminate one-way streets in Brooksville

BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville Vision Foundation is looking to formally present its plan to eliminate the one-way streets through downtown Brooksville to the Florida Department of Transportation by the end of the year.

Foundation president Cliff Manuel said during the organization's monthly meeting Tuesday that DOT officials want the group to work with the newly combined Hernando-Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization to get the project put on the DOT's "cost-affordable" plan for long-term transportation projects. From there, the plan would likely gain momentum from DOT officials, who are currently in the process of putting together a new 20-year transportation plan.

"That would be a big step in moving our plan forward," Manuel said. "Not only would it create more interest locally, it would help start the ball rolling toward a feasibility study by the DOT."

Since announcing the initiative to reroute two federal highways away from downtown Brooksville last year, Manuel has made the rounds of governmental entities, winning the support of the Hernando County Commission, the Brooksville City Council and the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization. He believes the plan has a good chance of making the DOT's five-year transportation plan in the near future.

"What they want to see is that it's supported not just locally, but regionally, as well," Manuel said. "I think we have that."

The desire to return stretches of U.S. 41 (Broad Street) and U.S. 98 (Jefferson Street) to two-way traffic is not new, said Manuel, president of Coastal Engineering Associates in Brooksville.

The conversion of the two streets to their current one-way status in 1993 was the result of a DOT study that said doing so would provide the best way to move commerce and goods through the city. However, many people have criticized the plan as shortsighted, in that it all but snuffed out a revival of downtown that had just started to gain momentum.

City Council member Lara Bradburn believes that converting the roads back to their former state is essential to fulfilling Brooksville's long-range goal of being pedestrian and cycling friendly.

"We need this to happen as soon as possible," Bradburn said. "I don't know of one business owner who believes that things are going to get any better until people can walk downtown without fearing being struck by a fast-moving truck."

Since presenting an alternative traffic plan to the foundation members a year ago, Manuel has been tweaking the idea, which would include alternate routes using existing roads that are already capable of handling commercial traffic.

"I think we're on a realistic path that could bring results much sooner than we originally had hoped," he said.

Contact Logan Neill at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

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