STORY BY: Lindsay Blair,
Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Specialist & Public Information Officer
CITRUS COUNTY — Moving through Citrus County during this year’s upcoming Hurricane season will now be much easier.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management and other state officials will now have a better glimpse at traffic conditions along major roadways in Citrus County during a hurricane.
This after Sheriff Mike Prendergast sent a letter to Secretary Mike Dew of the Florida Department of Transportation urging him to look at critical needs of evacuation plans related to Hurricane Irma here in Citrus County.
In his detailed letter, Sheriff Prendergast pointed out the huge toll that was taken on our roadways in Citrus due to the estimated 6.8 million people who were ordered to evacuate from south Florida when Irma hit the Sunshine State in September 2017. The Sheriff also proposed new FDOT cameras covering major evacuations routes in Citrus County so the timely of traffic signals could be properly coordinated.
Due to these recommendations, FDOT is making tremendous progress, such as enhancing traffic management capabilities on key arteries throughout Citrus County. Before the start of the 2018 hurricane season, U.S. 19 will now be fitted with cameras at several key intersections along the route.
This will dramatically improve signal coordination and actively change signal timing when Citrus experiences a spike in traffic volume due to an evacuation.Not only will U.S. 19 receive an overhaul, but also 16 intersections will be retrofitted with cellular modems.
This will allow Citrus County’s Traffic Maintenance or FDOT to adjust traffic signal timing remotely during critical events.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is encouraged by all of this forward moving progress by the Florida Department of Transportation and hopes in the event of another evacuation, citizens are able to travel more safely on the roadways throughout Citrus County and infrastructure is not compromised.