City wants stop light at dangerous intersection

OKEECHOBEE — At the Okeechobee City Council meeting on May 7 Okeechobee city administrator Marcos Montes De Oca presented a video to city council members on what he refers to as the most dangerous intersection in Okeechobee.

A still image from the video produced by the city of Okeechobee on what they label as the most dangerous intersection in the city at N. Parrot Ave and Northwest Ninth St. Special to the Okeechobee News/City of Okeechobee.

The nearly three-and-a-half-minute video showed a series of traffic accidents and congestion issues at the intersection of North Parrot Ave and Northwest Ninth Street which is located just before the railroad tracks next to Glades AC. There have been 34 reported accidents at the intersection in the last two years alone.

The video consisted of security footage provided by Glades AC and drone footage of the intersection recorded for the City of Okeechobee at no cost by Gilbert Experience. The security footage documents the multitude of crashes at the intersection over the last two years. The video was prepared ahead of a meeting the Okeechobee city administrator has with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in order to display why a traffic light is needed at that intersection.

FDOT was first contacted about the need of a traffic light at the intersection back in 2001, but FDOT denied the request. After the industrial park was opened in Okeechobee a few years later, traffic issues only worsened.

“When I came on board I wanted the industrial park to grow,” said Mr. Montes De Oca who was appointed city administrator in 2015. “We’re here for development and for pushing things forward, but we couldn’t get traffic in and out of the industrial corridor that runs along Northwest Ninth. So four years ago we brought up the request again to FDOT. Three years ago we were ranked second in congestion management, but for the past two years we’ve been ranked first. And we’re still not funded. So obviously we’re not getting through to FDOT. Together with the county’s support, we’re pushing this right now.”

Mr. Montes De Oca has two meetings scheduled in May with FDOT district one secretary L.K. Nandam, and he’s hopeful the video of the intersection will make it clear how badly a traffic light is needed.

“We were seeing the accidents come in through the police office,” said Mr. Montes De Oca. “The police officers would review the footage and I just thought ‘man, we need to get this out.’ So hats off to Gilbert and Glades AC for helping us put this together. It’s terrible seeing the accidents but I think it conveys the point we’re trying to make.”

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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