Planned McDonald’s Raises Traffic Concerns For ITID

Indian Trail Improvement District officials recommended Wednesday that developers planning to build a McDonald’s restaurant at the southeast corner of Orange Blvd. and Seminole Pratt Whitney Road get more traffic studies from the county before ITID will consider giving the restaurant its blessing.

Brian Terry of Land Design South, agent for developer Loxahatchee Ventures, gave a presentation on the 50,000-square-foot shopping center where a Walgreens pharmacy and Papa John’s Pizza currently exist.

The newest prospective tenant would be a McDonald’s, but the developer does not have approval for a drive-through lane.

Terry said the site was approved for development in 2007. Walgreens was built in 2009, while Papa John’s moved in more recently.

“What we are proposing to do is try to get McDonald’s into the location where building number 3 would be,” Terry said. “It had six buildings totaling 50,000 square feet. It was approved for commercial uses, it was approved for restaurants and it was approved for a bank. Basically that is all we’re proposing to do again, but because we are asking for the drive-through, we have to go back to the [county commission] for approval.”

Other modifications will deal with the additional traffic created by the drive-through. “We are creating some traffic with the drive-through, and that’s part of the application; we’re asking for concurrency,” Terry said.

The traffic issues came up Monday when Terry made a presentation to the Acreage Landowners’ Association. “At the ALA meeting, I was a bit surprised, and maybe I didn’t understand the impacts of the traffic, or the concerns that were expressed to us,” he said.

Terry said that he and a traffic engineer went to the intersection that afternoon at what would be the peak time, between 5 and 6 p.m., to understand exactly what the concerns were and how the intersection worked.

He said one of the problems is that the Walgreens shopping center is planned to have four access points along Orange Blvd., but it currently has only one, which is opposite the primary access to the Publix shopping center and the only gas station in The Acreage.

“Everybody is coming off Seminole Pratt and taking that quick left into the Publix shopping center,” he said. “What you have is people trying to make that turn quickly, people trying to get into Walgreens, and at the same time you have people stopped for the red light at Seminole Pratt. Everybody’s backing up.”

Terry said the issue is further compounded by people trying to turn left out of Walgreens, but that once they open a second driveway with the addition of McDonald’s, the congestion would be reduced.

The project has been submitted to the county but is still in the staff review phase. It will probably not go to a public hearing for a few months. “We still have to deal with a lot of the staff’s comments,” Terry said. “We still have quite a few that we’re trying to address, but I think we’re making good progress.”

Adam Kerr with Kimley-Horn & Associates said the timing of the county’s traffic light at Orange and Seminole Pratt should probably be altered so there is more green time for drivers on Orange entering Seminole Pratt. He said the major sources of traffic for the area would probably be the McDonald’s and Walgreens.

Supervisor Ralph Bair agreed that additional green time on Orange would help.

ITID President Michelle Damone said they need to get help from the county traffic engineer in working through the issues.

Terry said the county does not appear to be having an issue with the plan, but Damone told him to write a letter to the county indicating that ITID would not support the amendment unless traffic concerns were addressed.

Damone said the gas station was probably a big contributor to the issues as well. “If there is any way to prevent additional traffic congestion for future generations, now is the time to do it,” she said.

Damone said her concern was not so much about the McDonald’s, but rather going back to the county and looking for its traffic department to help work on an overall solution at the intersection.