The middle block of Sunset Avenue will be permanently converted to a one-way, eastbound street as of Monday morning (June 19), the town said.
The change is being made to improve pedestrian and driver safety and traffic flow at the congested and potentially dangerous intersection of Sunset Avenue and Bradley Place, Police Chief Nicholas Caristo told the Town Council on Tuesday.
Traffic at that intersection currently flows in two directions on both Bradley Place and Sunset Avenue. The intersection has a crosswalk but no traffic signalization. It is near Royal Poinciana Way and the westbound entrance to the Flagler Memorial Bridge.
The middle block of Sunset Avenue is one of the most congested streets in town. It’s in a business district with the Publix supermarket at the corner of Sunset Avenue and Bradley Place. Northbound and southbound drivers on Bradley Place can turn eastbound onto Sunset. Until recently, westbound drivers on Sunset were permitted to turn right or left onto Bradley Place.
The town recently prohibited left (southbound) turns from Sunset onto Bradley because of safety and congestion concerns, but drivers have not responded well to that change, according to police.
“It’s a little on the dangerous side, with people trying to cross that crosswalk with all the traffic backing up,” Caristo said of current conditions. “It does make sense and it is much safer to make Sunset one way.”
Traffic signalization will be adjusted at the intersection of Sunset Avenue and North County Road because both traffic lanes of Sunset will as of Monday flow east into that intersection, Caristo said. Sunset will have left and right turns lanes at that intersection.
Councilwoman Julie Araskog said traffic congestion will increase at the Sunset/North County Road intersection once the one-way conversion takes place.
“We will have to live with that and deal with it,” she said. “At least there will be less congestion on Bradley, where there is a crosswalk and no traffic light.”
In an interview, Police Captain Will Rothrock said there have been two pedestrian-related traffic crashes in the vicinity of Bradley Place, Sunset Avenue and Royal Poinciana Way within the last year.
Last month, the town attempted to relieve congestion at the Sunset Avenue/Bradley Place intersection by prohibiting left turns onto Bradley Place. But Rothrock said some drivers disregarded the police officer and signage and made the left turn anyway. Others would turn right (northbound) onto Bradley, then immediately make a U-turn and head south on Bradley.
Rothrock said signage and pavement markings reflecting the conversion of the mid-block of Sunset Avenue to one-way traffic will be installed early Monday morning. The change should take effect around 7 a.m., with police officers at the intersection of Sunset and Bradley and at the nearby entrance/exit to the Publix parking lot, where drivers leaving Publix will no longer be permitted to turn right (westbound) onto Sunset.
The Police Department will email alerts to residents to promote awareness of the changes, Caristo said.
Caristo said he decided to convert the mid-block of Sunset Avenue to one-way traffic after consulting with the Public Works Department. The council did not vote on the conversion.
“This is a decision the chief of police makes to protect residents and visitors,” council President Margaret Zeidman said.
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