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Lakeland Neighborhood Looks For Traffic Solutions After Swan Deaths

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Distracted and speeding drivers seem to be problems in any neighborhood, but in one Lakeland community, it’s threatening local wildlife. In just three weeks, five of Lake Morton’s swans have been killed by vehicles, and residents are searching for an answer.

Julie Townsend, president of the Lake Morton Neighborhood Association, said that the deaths  have caused a larger conversation about traffic issues in the area. Members of the community are trying to think of ideas to slow down drivers and protect these swans that some say are descendents of a pair given by Queen Elizabeth in 1957.

Their ideas include turning the road into a one-way street, laying brick or adding speed bumps.

Townsend does not think that making Lake Morton Drive one-way is a great option. She said it won’t slow anyone down, and adding more signs would also take away from the beauty of the area. Ripping up the asphalt on the street and replacing it with brick would also need a significant investment from the city.

“There are consequences to all of those choices,” said Townsend. “The city has to weigh what the consequences are, how that impacts the flow of traffic and the users’ experience around the lake.”

She also said that putting speed bumps on Lake Morton Drive would just add more traffic to the neighboring streets.

“Speeding down residential streets is the number one issue in every single neighborhood in the city,” Townsend said. “We can’t put speed bumps on every single street, so there has to be other solutions.”

Townsend suggested striping, on-street parking or adding raised pedestrian walkways that would work as a speed hump and wouldn’t be as harsh on the vehicles.

“They’re much more of a traffic-calming device, not stopping you to 10 mph,” Townsend said.

There is an internal city staff meeting Thursday where city officials will discuss possible solutions. All community concerns and ideas were given to members of the public works department by Townsend, who said they will assess this information and figure out what solutions could be possible.

Bethany Hanson is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.
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