Category Archives: traffic

2 DeBary projects offer boost worth $300 million

Two separate DeBary projects recently announced efforts worth millions. One is a subdivision on the St. Johns River. The other is a mixed-use project along U.S. Highway 17-92.

Riviera Bella grows

A recently announced expansion of Riviera Bella will add to the value of the 708-home riverfront subdivision over 20 years. The total value equates to about $300 million in sales.

Riviera Bella upgrades

The DeBary City Council approved a 66-acre expansion for Riviera Bella last year.

The property, located across Fort Florida Road near Konomac Lake, will accommodate an additional 293 single-family homes.

There are only 150 homesites remaining for new homes within the original 415-unit Riviera Bella development, Jerome Henin, president of the Winter Park-based Henin Group,  said in a statement.

“The logical next step is to expand on that success by adding adjacent homesites and more amenities,” he said.

The old and new sections of the subdivision will be joined by an advanced security system. It will have live 24-hour video surveillance and “interactive monitoring at all amenities and at every entrance. ”

A new amenities package includes a $300,000 state-of-the-art splash park with cabana, along with a nature park, nature trails and four playgrounds scattered throughout the new phases.

“In the original Riviera Bella, M/I Homes is currently selling and building new single-family homes on the remaining 150 homesites,” a statement said. “Priced from the high $200s and with some riverfront homes well over 1 million, those homes are expected to be sold out by mid-2019.”

D.R. Horton will build new single-family homes priced from the mid $200s in the new section. “The homebuilder will start its first models and sales will begin during the first quarter of next year in the new extension of Riviera Bella.  Build-out is projected to be complete between 2022 and 2023,” a statement said.

DeBary Town Center

Meanwhile, a nearly $4 million loan was recently announced for  Charles Wayne Properties for the DeBary Town Center, a roughly 68-acre mixed-use project at the southeast corner of Dirksen Drive and U.S. Highway 17-92.

The property, the largest undeveloped parcel within walking distance of any SunRail station in Central Florida, sits within a zone the DeBary City Council has targeted for high-end growth.

Apartments in Town Center

After years of debate and study, the DeBary City Council approved the first project within the DeBary Town Center in September.

Officials backed an incentive package worth $180,000 and a development plan for a 289-unit apartment complex with an estimated value of $25 million.

Construction on Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) could begin in spring 2018 with completion set for summer 2019, David McDaniel, president of Integra Land Development, told council members.

TOD zone

Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) is planned on 16 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on land commonly known as the Costa property.

The property is part of Steve Costa’s 68-acre parcel with frontage along U.S. 17-92. That is part of a 200-acre, SunRail-anchored Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zone.

In recent years, DeBary has laid the groundwork to encourage and manage development in the TOD with special rules designed to ensure high-end, consistent growth.

Development plans include the addition of more than 258,000 square feet of commercial space, according to a news release from Orlando-based First GREEN bank.

Easy-access connectors

“There will also be new, easy-access connection points between the SunRail System and neighboring nature trails,” the statement said. “These additions will help serve and grow DeBary’s population of roughly 20,000 residents by offering new housing, shopping and eco-friendly transportation options.

Plans call for 2,200 residential units of all types, mixed with senior-living facilities and stores, from coffee shops to small groceries, the statement added.

“We are excited to support this project, which will provide the community with a multi-functional area, built to serve both the urban and ecotourist industries,” said Ken LaRoe, founder and chairman of First GREEN Bank. “The area will facilitate more SunRail use, which equates to less carbon emissions, and the area will simultaneously encourage both business development and outdoor recreation. This aligns with our bank’s mission, which supports financially, environmentally and socially responsible initiatives.”

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Bridge closure infuriates U.S. 17-92 motorists

Central Florida drivers were left furious and confused during rush hour on Friday after the northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 17-92 were closed in DeBary.

The closure, which ends Monday morning, is affecting the bridge over the St. Johns River and a section of the highway between Sanford and DeBary.

The $3 million project is preparation for a multi-use trail on the bridge and to resurface U.S. 17-92 between the river and Dirksen Drive.

Facebook complaints

Drivers took to Facebook on Friday, blasting everything from the project itself to detour signs providing bad directions.

“The signs are inaccurate, and I just spent an hour getting to a detour that spit me back to where I started,”  Tim Kearney said on DeBary Proud!’s Facebook page. “That’s just poor planning, and a failure. Whoever approved this execution plan should lose their job, or their office. I’d love to find out the details of how I can complain.”

The Florida Department of Transportation announced the project last month, then made adjustments, including delaying the start date from Oct. 31 to Nov. 10. It originally said both lanes were closed. Then it said only northbound lanes would be blocked.

Lane closures

The northbound lanes closed at 6 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10.

The lanes will reopen by 6 a.m. Monday, Nov. 13.

“The St. Johns River Bridge will have barrier wall removed to accommodate the future 10-foot wide multiuse Spring-to-Spring trail,” the Florida DOT said in an email.  “Electronic message boards have been installed to inform motorists about the road closure, and detour signs will direct traffic.”

‘Necessary Evil’

Some Volusia County drivers said they didn’t know about the closure before going to Seminole County on Friday.

Taco delivery

One DeBary woman ordered a taco delivered to her while she was stuck in traffic on State Road 46 in Sanford.

Returning to southwest Volusia took hours for some people Friday night.

One woman said it took her three hours to get home.

On the You Live in DeBary page, Prissy Cris said: “It is terrible that such a heavily used route is closed. I believe it’s a necessary evil. What they are doing is very important for the structure and postponing it or not doing it at all would be endangering those who use the bridge.”

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U.S. 17-92 bridge closure pushed back, only NB lanes affected

Editor’s note: The FDOT announced Monday that only northbound lanes of the U.S. Highway 17-92 bridge will close and the project will start at 6 a.m. Nov. 10.


The closure of the U.S. Highway 17-92 bridge is being pushed back and only northbound lanes will be blocked, the Florida Department of Transportation announced Monday.

The Florida DOT originally announced the bridge over the St. Johns River would close for three days starting Tuesday and both south and northbound lanes would be affected.

However, it later announced the closure will actually begin at 6 a.m. Nov. 10 and end at 6 a.m. Nov. 13. The DOT said:

  • Northbound traffic – from Sanford to DeBary ~
    — will be detoured
  • Southbound traffic – from DeBary to Sanford
    — will be unaffected

The closure is for the construction of a $3 million shared-use lane for bicyclists, joggers and other trail users.

The Florida Department of Transportation is  adding a “shared-use path” on the bridge.

The path will close a half-mile gap in the Coast to Coast Connector, the FDOT said in a statement Friday.


“The project begins just south of Wayside Park in Volusia County, proceeds over the St. Johns River on the US 17/92 bridge and ends at the entrance to Lake Monroe Park in Seminole County,” the statement said.

Economic Assets

DeBary and many other jurisdictions see trails as economic assets.

Coast to Coast Connector will eventually link St. Petersburg with Titusville, according to the  Florida Greenways & Trails Foundation’s website.

“This connector will be the first of its kind in Florida and has already fueled the economic revitalization of communities along its route such as Dunedin and Winter Garden,” the website says.  The connector “is a major priority within the Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan developed by the Office of Greenways and Trails and has already fueled the economic revitalization of communities along its route such as Dunedin and Winter Garden. ”

DeBary is also along the route for another trail, the St. Johns River to Sea Loop, a 300-trail linking St. Augustine to Titusville with a route along the coast and through west Volusia.

Spring-to-Spring Trail

A segment of that passageway called the Spring-to-Spring Trail got a boost from the DeBary City Council in July.

Council members directed staffers to work with Volusia County to close a 6-mile trail gap, preferably using state grant funds, between Orange City and DeBary.

“We want the trail very badly,” DeBary Golf & Country Club resident Denise Walton told council members at the July meeting.  “We know it will help our property values. We don’t want to see it disappear.”

The calls for connecting Blue Spring State Park in Orange City to Gemini Springs Park in DeBary with a continuous recreational trail.

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DeBary gears up to celebrate on Oct. 26.

Sure, you live in DeBary. But does that mean you’re ready to celebrate DeBary? Well, you have a few days to think about it.

The party is 6 p.m. 9 p.m. Thursday,  Oct. 26 at City Hall, Florence K. Little Hall, the old fire station and the new fire station off U.S. Highway 17-92.

“Meet your neighbors and City staff, discover new community organizations, see your City facilities, and learn about the many services provided by the City of DeBary,” a city flier says.

Participants can expect:

  • Fire vs police competitions
  • Police and fire demonstrations
  • Tour city facilities
  • Best kids police/fire costume contest

This is about DeBary taking part in Florida City Government Week 2017, which runs from October 23-29.

“Join Florida’s cities this year in celebrating, showcasing and engaging citizens in the work of municipal government,” the Florida League of Cities said online. “The Florida City Government Week is a time for municipalities to provide and foster civic education, collaboration, volunteerism and more. All cities are encouraged to participate, and the League is here to help you celebrate what makes your city great.”

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DeBary crash after chase ends with 3 arrests

An urgent voice crackled over the airwaves.

“They’re getting off at Dirksen. They’re getting off at Dirksen.”

Minutes later, three suspects – accused Ormond Beach cell-phone store robbers  — roared off Interstate 4 and crashed in DeBary as a Volusia County Sheriff’s Office chopper captured the action.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood spotted the suspects’ vehicle — a white Dodge — heading south on Interstate 95.

Daraja Adero Tinsley
Sheldric J Slater
Wendell Harp

Cops were looking for the vehicle after three suspects robbed an AT&T store in Ormond Beach on Aug. 29.

The store’s clerk was shoved into a counter and several iPhones were stolen.

Chitwood spotted the getaway vehicle and called in a description and tag number.

The driver refused to stop for a traffic stop. Chitwood radioed in that it failed to stop and started to flee on Interstate 4 heading west.

“Sheriff Chitwood authorized a vehicle pursuit for his agency and pursued the vehicle with marked VCSO Deputy Sheriffs car and FHP marked patrol car,” a report said.

Chitwood said the vehicle then got off at Dirksen Drive heading west.

“The vehicle then crashed near Dirksen Drive/Grande Vista Street. The three occupants of the vehicle then started to run on foot from within the vehicle,” the report said.

Deputies told them to stop – but only two did: Wendell Harp, 18, and Sheldric J. Slater, 19.

Daraja Adero Tinsley, 20,  ran, according to a report and chopper video.

Deputies with two K-9 police dogs later took Tinsley later down near Dirksen and Agua Vista drives in DeBary.” A report said he was taken for medical treatment but details were not released.

A report said he was taken for medical treatment but details were not released.

All three remained at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on Saturday.

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Volusia’s Chitwood on back-to-school Monday: ‘Slow down and pay attention’

Slow down. Pay attention. Those are among the messages from local officials in preparation for Monday, the first day of the academic year for public schools in Volusia County.

Your work-week driving routine will change, even if you don’t have kids in the school system.

More than 70 schools are reopening across the county, meaning school zones are returning and thousands of students, parents, teachers, administrators and support staffers are hitting roadways and sidewalks.

Extra deputies will be deployed to enforce traffic laws and ensure students’ safety.

Drivers must slow down in school zones and stop at stop lines when children or crossing guards are in crosswalks, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.

Avoid school zones if possible. Remain alert. Avoid distractions.


“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it can’t happen to you,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a statement. “The moment you look down at your phone might be the moment an innocent child steps into the road. Don’t make a mistake you have to live with for the rest of your life. All we’re asking you to do is slow down and pay attention.”

Don’t text and drive. The same goes for pedestrians. Distracted people, whether drivers or walkers, are dangerous.

James T. Russell
Volusia County Superintendent of Schools

“Students may think a driver sees them, but if the driver is distracted or the student darts in front of the vehicle, the result can be tragic,” Volusia County School Superintendent Tom Russell said in a statement. “As a community we must be more aware of students traveling to and from school and exercise caution in school zones.”

Other safety reminders include:

  • Deputies are cracking down on speeders and crosswalk violators.
  • The law prohibits passing school buses on undivided roadways if the vehicles are stopped to load or unload children.
  • Drivers don’t have to stop if they are moving in the opposite direction of the bus on a highway divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least five feet wide.
  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States
  • Twenty-five percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occurs during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Following the rule s of drop-off/pick-up area are schools
  • Be prepared to stop at all times.

“Be especially careful in areas with parked vehicles on the side of the road. Children crossing between vehicles may be difficult for you to see,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Check out the Volusia County School District calendar for 2017-2018.

Volusia 2017-18 School Calendar

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