Fear and Loathing on Misclassified Magnolia Drive

Picture a Magnolia Dr of the future. Not one where we’re flying around on hover boards and have mastered time travel retrofitting a 1985 Delorean powered by banana peels accelerated to 88 miles per hour, but a near future.

A 2025 future where you can exit your neighborhood safely and access amenities on South Monroe and South Magnolia without navigating through a school zone and taking a left in front of the Checkers.

While the cajun-fry aroma is seductive, don’t you wish you could utilize the neighborhood’s multiple exits and capitalize on the convenient positioning without fear of unsafe passage on the crowded and under-calmed Magnolia Drive?

The truth: if we all pressed for a solution, we would probably get one.

How we got here is is kind of complicated but I will do my best to break it down in a digestible way. Forgive me in advance if anything here is generalized to fit into a 500-word essay in a local neighborhood newsletter and the Florida New Signal.

To sum things up I believe Magnolia Drive is misclassified as a “major collector,” and this is to our peril. You may be thinking at this point… “What the duckles is a major collector?”

Well according to the Leon County Driveway and Street Connection Guidelines and Procedures Manual amended in 2016 a “Collector Roadway, Major shall” mean a street that channels traffic between arterials, from other collector streets to the arterial system, and from a major activity center to the arterial street system. Major collector roadways may sustain retail and other commercial establishments along their route and may carry relatively high traffic volume.

While I could see some characteristics like “high traffic volume” would fall under this many don’t seem to fit for me considering the description of a minor collector. 

Now you may be asking yourself.. “What the oyster shuckles is a minor collector?”

A, Collector Roadway, Minor – Shall mean a street that conducts traffic from a number of minor streets to the Major Collector/arterial system, between other collectors, and from activity centers to a street of higher classification. Minor Collectors are predominately residential in nature, generally with lower volumes, shorter trip lengths, and fewer trips than Major Collectors.

To put things in perspective for consideration Orange Avenue is considered a Minor Collector and eligible for traffic calming. Orange has two lanes, multiple businesses and even a hospital. But yet our one-lane neighborhood road is classified as a Major collector. 

To me, this didn’t sound right so I wanted to understand more. And thought clearly this is a mistake and someone just needs to re-evaluate and correct no big deal. We are all human and I just need to reach out to my city and county leadership to have this evaluated and reviewed. Maybe no one has brought this up yet?

So I did just that. I put together a petition on change.org and shared it with my neighbors and confidantes, and we got 85 signatures quickly. I emailed our commissioners and outlined inconsistencies like East Magnolia being primarily residential on both sides and that there has to be a mistake. And after some time, I finally got one response from Leon County Director of Public Works. Here’s the response I was provided verbatim:

“A Major Collector is defined as a street that that channels traffic between arterials, from other collector streets to the arterial system, and from a major activity center to the arterial street system.  Magnolia Drive is classified as a major collector as it connects two principle arterial roads, Monroe Street and Apalachee Parkway.  Furthermore, Magnolia Drive also channels traffic from Jim Lee Road (Major Collector), Seminole Drive (Minor Collector), and Circle Drive (Minor Collector) to both Apalachee Parkway and Monroe Street.  

Magnolia Drive is not a residential road, nor is it internal to a subdivision.  Magnolia Drive being classified as a Major Collector is correct.  As such, Magnolia Drive is expected to have all types of traffic, including semi-trucks. “

So I thought to myself this still seems to be faulted as Monroe and Apalachee connect directly and our one lane residential on both sides road is not the only artery as we have Orange to Blairstone, Or even the multiple routes utilizing Calhoun rather than disturbing the peace on Magnolia Dr. So I decided to politely rebut but none of my responses prompted reconsideration or further engagement. 

Which brings us to what can be done. Our petition is still up if anyone would like to consider signing it on SouthCityNeighbors.com but also if you want to join our fight against the mis-directed traffic on Magnolia, you may want to review what’s happening in Menlo Park as this will definitely affect us as well.

And then you have a lot on Magnolia and Gadsden currently up for rezoning from Residential Preservation to Commercial.

One may think this could be the first step in many to fully validate E. Magnolia Drive as a Major Collector. Whether this is something you would like to see or not, my friend, is your personal preference. But I encourage you to think about it the next time you catch a sniff of that Cajun fryer  just for a quick trip to Winn-Dixie or a fill up at the Marathon station. 

I want you to ask yourself: if you want to continue to allow for commercial trucks to wake my neighbors up and create unsafe passage through all hours of the day and night including 3 am. I personally am woken up all hours of the night with my home shaking by 18-wheelers barreling down Magnolia at atrocious speeds that don’t care to utilize the city’s established truck route, i.e. Capital Circle. 

If the answer is No, I encourage you to sign our petition and email Leon County Chairwoman, Commissioner Carolyn Cummings, whose At-Large seat is up for reelection, and ask that something is done about this.

It’s simply harder for us to be told No with an approaching election if we all ask for it. I want to encourage us to use this to leverage change for our future selves directly so our residents and families could have safe passage and less disruptive, dangerous commercial traffic.

At least until we get our hoverboards and Deloreans.

One response to “Fear and Loathing on Misclassified Magnolia Drive”

  1. Mary Z Cox Avatar

    Good article Gordon . Contact Howard Pardue & ask for his insights –even though retired -he may still may be able to point you to local gov that may be sympathetic to having it reclassified .

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