1. Q. What is the Doherty Drive Extension Project?
A. The Doherty Drive Extension is a proposed road construction project, currently in the design stage.
It is shown here in orange on a simplified map. The idea is to extend Heritage Oaks Boulevard to the east and extend Doherty Drive to the south, till they meet. See map below. BACK
2. Q: What is the purpose of Doherty Drive Extension?
A: The objectives normally cited by city officials are: provide a second exit for Heritage Oaks residents; reduce traffic on Minton Road; and provide Heritage Oaks residents convenient access to nearby destinations. BACK
3. Q: I hear this is different from the original plan. What was the original plan?
A: The original idea was for Doherty Drive Extension to extend further south to meet up with Fell Road. Also, Fell Road would extend eastward to intersect with Dairy. See map below. BACK
4. Q: How did the concept change? Why?
A: The original Heritage Oaks developer donated the land between Eastwood and The Preserve, and the land just east of The Preserve, to the city, to use for a road. However, the developer did not donate the tract that extended south to Fell Road. The city would have had to pay for that tract if it wanted to extend Doherty Drive all the way down to Fell Road. The city chose not to do that, and the land is no longer available.
5. Q: Why do so many people say the original concept was better than the current concept?
A: The original arrangement (extend Doherty further south to Fell Road) would have been more useful because it would have tied this area into a broader connectivity grid for emergency access. Also, eastbound traffic on Heritage Oaks would have split between northbound and southbound at Doherty.
With the current concept, all of the eastbound traffic on the new road from the Heritage Oaks subdivisions and from Minton Road will be funneled into the intersection of Doherty and Henry. This is a poor arrangement because traffic on Henry already is so heavy at times that it blocks access to five side streets. BACK
6. Q: Can't we revert back to the original concept?
A: No, the right of way is no longer available. BACK
7. Q: Do the people of West Melbourne support the project?
A: Judging by resident comments at city council meetings, the answer is an unequivocal NO! Over the past year and a half, there have been 23 resident presentations about the project. All but 2 were against the project. BACK
8. Q: What aspects of the project do citizens comment about the most?
A: This chart shows the number of times various issues were addressed by residents. BACK
9. Q: I like videos. Can I see a video about all this, with clips of citizens comment?
A: I thought you'd never ask! Watch this:
10. Q: I like details. Can I read the official summaries of all of those citizen comments?
11. Q: OK, OK, that's way too much detail; how about a top-level summary?
12. Q: How else have the people expressed their opposition to this project?
A: Well over a hundred citizens have signed a petition against the project. BACK
13. Q: Why so much concern about the safety of school children?
A: The new road will bring new traffic along Heritage Oaks Blvd, and will increase traffic on Henry Avenue. Some of this will be cut-through traffic, i.e., drivers caught up in heavy traffic on Minton road, taking a short cut through the new road to get to their destinations (mall, big box stores, restaurants, etc). Cut-through drivers are notorious for speeding and causing accidents. Many parents have rightly expressed deep concern that their children will not be safe walking home from school in this environment.
According to county officials, Brevard has one of the highest pedestrian death rates in the nation! Recently a twelve-year-old girl was killed on A1A in Indialantic, and officials are blaming the death on the ineffective blinking yellow light arrangement at the intersection. Poor decisions about our roads and traffic control can have the most disastrous consequences.
The plan for the Doherty/Henry intersection is to implement it without a traffic light), and "…see how that works". Will it? The lesson of the Indialantic accident is clear: We might not know until it is too late! BACK
14. Q: Why all the hullabaloo about cut-through traffic from Minton Road?
A: Minton Road traffic is heavy and growing due to massive development in this area. The county wants to expand it to six lanes, but this is many years off into the future. So in the meantime, the traffic will grow till it overflows its bounds.
We can think of this road as being like a pipe under high pressure – traffic is seeking relief and will spew out wherever it sees an opening. Impatient, frustrated drivers will see the new Doherty Drive Extension/HOB Extension road as a welcome relief, a quick route to their destinations at Melbourne Square Mall, the big box stores, restaurants, etc.
Fact: Cut-through drivers tend to speed and have accidents.
The county officials are well aware of this. The current state of Minton traffic is being assessed as part of a county-level (SCTPO) study. Here are a few quotes from their findings, published in December 2019:
"The 2018 traffic volumes along the study corridor range from 25,000 to 33,000 vehicles per day.… the study corridor has experienced volume‐to‐capacity (V/C) ratios ranging from 0.75 to 0.86 over the past three years. … The study corridor has experienced on average 205 crashes per year over the past 5 years … with an average of three per year involving pedestrians or bicyclists."
This is sure to grow over the next decade as a result of new developments throughout the entire region.
Another study, which was performed for the city of West Melbourne last year, confirmed a high rate of cut-through traffic, estimated at 20%.
The cut-through traffic will be joined by vehicles from the new medical facility and from the new Heritage Pointe subdivision, and the existing four subdivisions.
When this traffic gets to the intersection at Henry Avenue, a lot of it will turn east on Henry and will add to the congestion that blocks the side streets off of Henry. BACK
15. Q: What will be the impact on Henry, Sylvia, Edward, Parker, Trend, or Clifton?
A: There is going to be a lot of traffic entering the Doherty/Henry intersection, and a lot of it will go eastward. Most of this traffic will be from the four existing subdivisions in Heritage Oaks, and the new Heritage Pointe subdivision and new medical facility. But also, some of it (officially estimated to be 20%) will be cut-through traffic from Minton Road. Cut-through traffic from high volume arterials tends to speed and have a lot of accidents. All of this means there will heavier (and faster) traffic on Henry, which will tend to block the exits from the side streets even worse than it does now. Also, the city is declining to put a traffic signal at Henry/Doherty, so with the increased volume and higher speed traffic, the intersection itself will become much more hazardous. BACK
16. Q: What will be the impact on the existing Doherty Drive neighborhood?
A: There is going to be a lot of traffic entering the Doherty/Henry intersection, and some of it will continue on Doherty toward US 192. Most of this traffic will be from the four existing subdivisions in Heritage Oaks, and the new Heritage Pointe subdivision and new medical facility. But also, some of it (officially estimated to be 20%) will be cut-through traffic from Minton Road. Cut-through traffic from high volume arterials tends to speed and have a lot of accidents. All of this means there will heavier (and faster) traffic on Doherty, and it may become difficult to enter Doherty from the various complexes. Also, the city is declining to put a traffic signal at Henry/Doherty, so with the increased volume and higher speed traffic, the intersection itself will become much more hazardous.
17. Q: Can I see an example of traffic on Henry that blocks the side streets?
A: This video is a good example. It's hard to believe anyone would want to add more traffic to this street. Note the street blockage, the homes fronting on the street, and the school crossing sign. Watch:
18. Q: Has the city done anything about the problem of side road blockage on Henry Avenue?
A: Yes. The city has in effect acknowledged that it is already a serious problem by posting a road sign and a message painted on the street surface at each intersection, telling drivers they should not block the intersection. See examples below.
19. Q: Is the city going to put up signs saying the blockage problem is going to get worse?
A: Is that supposed to be funny? But you're right, the new road will make it worse. Maybe they should make the signs bigger!
20. Q: Why all the concern about the new road causing flooding?
A: Weather pattern changes are causing a higher risk of hurricanes in this area, which will lead to more flooding. The risk is further exacerbated by rampant urban growth, which destroys the green space that absorbs rainwater. The combination has prompted widespread and genuine concern about flooding.
To prevent flooding, what we desperately need is green space.
The classic example that we do not want to emulate is the Houston mistake. An environmental analyst blamed the flood on: "…leaving lots of concrete where water doesn’t drain, and little green space to absorb it…”
The West Melbourne City Council has acknowledged the problem and they have declared that flood prevention is "Priority Number One"! Kudos for the good words! But words are not reality.
The reality is that we are living in the midst of a massive explosion of urban development that is gobbling up all available green space.
By destroying green space, the Doherty Drive Extension project can only make the flood risk worse.
21. Q: Has the city improved the drainage plan for the new road?
A: Yes. In response to criticisms from residents and from Council Member Bentley, the city has changed the drainage design (relative to the 2012 design), to reduce the likelihood that water impacting on the road surface drains directly into The Preserve subdivision. The new design concept also includes a system of swales and berms to guard against flooding into The Preserve and Eastwood. Still, it would seem that the loss of green space will mean that, in a hurricane situation when there is widespread flooding, there will be many marginal areas which are on the brink of flooding, and if more water is added, some of them will flood; and the new road will be the factor that causes the additional water. So it is comforting to believe that the road may not increase the risk of flooding in The Preserve and Eastwood, but unfortunately, this may be at the expense of other areas upstream or downstream which will bear the burden.
City officials often defend new developments in spite of the bad impact on the environment, by saying this is the way our system works, the government can't dictate what private enterprise does; but in the case of the Doherty Drive Extension, that excuse does not apply, the city itself is the perp! BACK
22. Q: Wouldn't it be good to have another exit from the Heritage Oaks area?
A: There are advantages and disadvantages. People who live in neighborhoods with two exits (Trend Avenue is an example) often describe it as a double-edged sword. Many Heritage Oaks residents feel the new road would make access easier for them, but would also bring in a lot of traffic, some of it high-speed, raising concerns about safety. It will also make it easier for the criminal element to get into the neighborhood, and to get away easily. Overall, most of the people seem to prefer their safety, security, and privacy, rather than accessibility.
Also, there is really no escaping the single exit configuration. Most of the most desirable individual subdivisions in the city have only a single exit, and in addition, each cul de sac has only a single exit, so it is clear that most people in these areas do not place a high value on having multiple exits.
High accessibility would seem to be more of a concern of the elites, rather than of the people. If you read discussions on social media and letters to the editor, you will find that the people, in general, do not crave more accessibility; rather, they are critical of the city because of out-of-control development, and for being oblivious to the consequences this has to the quality of life.
There is a demographic group that prizes high interconnectivity (such as the newlywed professionals who do not drive, and who populate areas such as Crystal City, VA), but that group is not well represented in these neighborhoods. BACK
23. Q: But isn't there a lot of public support for the second exit?
A: A perusal of citizen comments at City Council Meetings, comments on social media, and letters to the editor will reveal that people are much more concerned about other topics such as the following:
Destruction of wildlife, trees
Dogs on the loose
The frivolous use of taxpayer dollars
Noise levels due to loss of trees
Drivers using Timber Ridge as a cut-through
And so on and so forth, ad nauseam. Not many about needing another exit. Much more concern about dog poop! More concern about coyotes on the loose in our gated communities! What’s more, the few that you find, upon examination, turn out to be complaints about the poor design of the existing exit; and the advocates assume that any new exit would be well designed, with a traffic light, which is not the case for the planned Doherty/Henry intersection.
24. Q: Yeah, greenery is nice; but what difference does it make if we cut down some trees?
A: Trees are good for our health, our wellbeing, and our environment. Here's a pretty good summary:
TREES COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
Excess carbon dioxide (CO2) is building up in our atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Trees absorb CO2, removing and storing the carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles.
TREES CLEAN THE AIR
Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.
TREES PROVIDE OXYGEN
In one year an acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people.
TREES COOL THE STREETS AND THE CITY
Average temperatures in Los Angeles have risen 6°F in the last 50 years as tree coverage has declined and the number of heat-absorbing roads and buildings has increased. Trees cool the city by up to 10°F, by shading our homes and streets, breaking up urban “heat islands” and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves.
TREES CONSERVE ENERGY
Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.
TREES SAVE WATER
Shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Most newly planted trees need only fifteen gallons of water a week. As trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture.
TREES HELP PREVENT WATER POLLUTION
Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. This prevents stormwater from carrying pollutants to the ocean. When mulched, trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies.
TREES HELP PREVENT SOIL EROSION
On hillsides or stream slopes, trees slow runoff and hold soil in place.
TREES SHIELD CHILDREN FROM ULTRA-VIOLET RAYS
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Trees reduce UV-B exposure by about 50 percent, thus providing protection to children on school campuses and playgrounds - where children spend hours outdoors.
Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees and nature aids concentration by reducing mental fatigue.
TREES REDUCE VIOLENCE
Neighborhoods and homes that are barren have shown to have a greater incidence of violence in and out of the home than their greener counterparts. Trees and landscaping help to reduce the level of fear.
TREES ADD UNITY
Trees as landmarks can give a neighborhood a new identity and encourage civic pride.
TREES PROVIDE A CANOPY AND HABITAT FOR WILDLIFE
Sycamore and oak are among the many urban species that provide excellent urban homes for birds, bees, possums and squirrels.
TREES BLOCK THINGS
Trees ... muffle sound from nearby streets and freeways, and create an eye-soothing canopy of green. Trees absorb dust and wind and reduce glare.
TREES INCREASE PROPERTY VALUES
The beauty of a well-planted property and its surrounding street and neighborhood can raise property values by as much as 15 percent.
25. Q: But aren't state and federal governments responsible for the environment? Why pick on the city?
A: Well, to begin with, of course, it's our city.
Also, we can all see that there is an unstoppable wave of development by private landowners all over the city and surrounding areas. Without some restraint, the entire area will be a concrete jungle with periodic floods, few trees, little wildlife, higher temperatures, exhaust fumes, unpleasant noises, etc. The government may not be able to control all that, but it can at least stop this one project.
Also, there is a growing recognition in this country that there needs to be a new focus on environmental initiatives by city governments, where nonpartisan action is possible to prevent step by step deterioration of quality of life for our citizens.
26. Q: Will the city provide fences to replace existing natural barriers (woods) if the road is built?
A: Originally the city seemed firmly opposed to providing fences, as a result of a previous experience. More recently, there has been some discussion on the topic without resolution or commitment. BACK
27. Q: Why do people think the natural barriers (woods) provide better security than a fence?
A: Below is a photo of the dense woods between The Preserve and Eastwood subdivisions. If you were going to break into somebody's house at night, would you want to wade through this? No, you would be much more comfortable scaling a fence. An experienced law enforcement officer has assured us that for any style of fence, law enforcement officers could open their files and find dozens of videos of intruders scaling fences easily to get access to homes; but natural barriers like this are a much more effective deterrent. BACK
28. Q: I want to read reports and data. Where can I find actual traffic info relevant to this issue?
A: Here are links to three sources that are referenced on this site, containing relevant traffic data.
For this site, use Location ID =
585 for Henry Avenue
481, 482, or 483 for Minton Road
29. Q: I didn't think there were any pedestrian accidents on Minton Road; why should we expect cut-through from Minton to lead to accidents?
A: This graphic (from the County Study re Minton Road) shows pedestrian accidents happen often on Minton. Remembering that cut-through drivers tend to be relatively impatient and aggressive, we can expect that the new road will import these kinds of accidents from Minton into Doherty, Heritage Oaks, and Henry Avenue. BACK
30. Q: But the city funded a traffic study about this; didn't it resolve concerns about cut-through traffic?
A: The report actually said there will be a lot of cut-through traffic, mainly west-bound traffic wanting to go south on Minton. Some quotes:
"… it is likely that many motorists traveling from the east on U.S. 192 whose destination is to the south on Minton Road, utilize Doherty Drive and Henry Avenue to avoid the more congested U.S. 192 and Minton Road intersection." Page 10.
"… Vehicles originating east of the study area that travel west on Henry Avenue in the afternoon are likely to receive the largest benefit from using the proposed extension.… an estimated 20% of vehicles originating from the east that travel to a final destination south of Heritage Oaks Boulevard may use the extension as an alternate during afternoon commutes" Page 19.
Please note that when they say 20% of the vehicles traveling from the east, they don't mean Henry vehicles only, they are referring to vehicles on US 192 and Henry; so it also includes that great mass of traffic that we see every day turning south onto Minton at the Minton/US 192 intersection, as well as those turning south at Minton/Henry!!!
All of this is in stark contrast to numerous assurances by city officials that cut-through traffic would be nonexistent or negligible.
In case you are wondering, the Minton/US 192 intersection experienced 312 crashes during the five-year interval of the Minton Road Feasibility Study. (See page 66 of the Minton Road study.)
31. Q: How credible is the city traffic study?
A: It is a very professional report, given the limited funding made available; but there are a couple of weak areas which cause it to underestimate the negative effects of the new road.
First, the analyst approached the issue of cut-through traffic by measuring the driving time with the current roadway configuration; then estimating the driving time after construction of the new road; and comparing the two numbers. If there was not a significant improvement, it was assumed that the drivers would not take the new road as a short cut. Any experienced driver knows that this is a weak argument, because when under pressure (late for work, frustrated with traffic, angry at other drivers) we often take whatever shortcut presents itself; no transit time measurements are available to us, and we would probably ignore them if they were. This is a well-documented phenomenon. Therefore it is reasonable to expect cut-through traffic higher than predicted in the report. Remember, too, that these drivers are notorious for speeding and accidents.
The second weak area is that the actual traffic counting was very limited, presumably because of funding limitations, and apparently unrepresentative of normal conditions. Since traffic fluctuates in a more or less random way, we can't rely on a single measurement over a short period of time to give us realistic numbers that typify normal conditions. What is striking here is that the counts on Henry are so much lower than the counts made by the county (SCTPO). The county measurements, covering measurements taken over several years, indicate that the Level of Service is consistently LOS = E (where A = Best, F = Worst). However, the city traffic analysis shows all LOS = A, B, or C. Likewise, if you look at the hourly data, the numbers for a supposedly typical rush hour count are much higher in the county data than in the city data. For example, in the county data, the average hourly rate (averaged over two hours) was 1022 vehicles, whereas in the city data it was 724 vehicles. This is a dramatic difference, almost 50%. Given that the county data is consistent over several years, whereas the city data was a one-day measurement, the county data would appear to be much more credible. Also lending credence to this conclusion, an experienced traffic control officer has stated that that even now, Henry needs to be a four-lane road to cope with current traffic. (See statement by Person Number 9 on The People Speak page.) Also see the Henry Avenue Traffic video on the Links page, showing heavy traffic on Henry, blocking access to side streets. All of this leads one to conclude that the actual traffic conditions are likely to be significantly worse than projected by the city's limited traffic study.
Considering both of these factors, it is likely that the cut-through traffic will be higher than predicted, and the total traffic will be higher than predicted.
That being the case, it also follows that it would be quite risky to implement the new intersection without traffic lights.
32. Q: If the road is built, what will traffic be like in five years?
A: Reasonable predictions, based on info above:
• The congestion we often have now at rush hour at the Minton/Henry intersection, will also occur at the Minton/Heritage Oaks intersection.
• The kinds of accidents that we have seen on Minton, including pedestrian accidents, will have migrated into Heritage Oaks, Henry, and Doherty.
• At times it will be extremely difficult to get out of the Memory Care Facility or Heritage Pointe subdivision due to backup of traffic on Heritage Oaks.
• Similarly, the side streets off of Henry will be blocked by traffic very frequently.
• The Henry/Doherty intersection will be as bad as Minton/Henry is now.
33. Q: How will the new road cause more traffic on Henry? Is it really new traffic, or is it traffic that is just arriving at Henry via a different route?
A: Yes, there will be new traffic induced onto Henry. As an example, consider residents of The Preserve, Eastwood, or Eastwood2 who want to travel southeast, perhaps to the Walmart Center on Palm Bay Road, or attractions east of that. Starting from what is currently the east end of Heritage Oaks Blvd (between The Preserve and Eastwood), the driver currently has to drive west (wasting time) to Minton, turn south on Minton. and then turn east onto Eber, or turn east on Palm Bay Road. If the new extensions are put in, the driver will most likely take the new extension east on Heritage Oaks, then turn north on the Doherty extension, then east on Henry, and south on Hollywood, etc. While the northward travel on Doherty extension is wasteful, it is much shorter than the westward travel on Heritage Oaks that he currently takes. (Difference in distance is approximately 1.4 miles for a round trip.) Every driver won't do this every time, but surely, many will, much of the time. So the bottom line is that the new extensions will induce new traffic onto Henry, and this is traffic that would not have taken Henry in the current configuration; it would have gone south on Minton instead.
34. Q: Who are the people who will make the final decision?
A: The mayor and city council members:
Mayor Hal J. Rose, John Dittmore, Pat Bentley, Daniel Batcheldor, Adam Gaffney, Andrea Young, and Barbara A. Smith. See photo on The People Speak page.
35. Q: How can I voice my objection to this project?
A: You can sign the petition which is available here:
Please see the mailing instructions at the bottom of the form.
You can also Email the city council members individually:
Or email all members en masse:
Phone numbers and postal addresses are listed on the city website.
36. Q: When and where does the city council meet?
A: 6:30 p.m., on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month
Veterans Memorial Complex
2285 Minton Road
West Melbourne, FL 32904
37. Q: What effect will the COVID-19 pandemic/recession have on funding?
A: Funds for the project are currently available. However, the city manager has articulated serious concerns about funding for future city needs. In the agenda for the City Budget Workshop, 5 May 2020, he writes that projections of future revenues …"should be treated with great caution, as the current deep economic downturn is less than two months old, and it is very unclear when the trough will be reached, nor how quickly economic conditions will improve, and to what extent, off such a deep trough. Perhaps the largest question is what the State of Florida will do to modify the State’s adopted 2020-2021 budget. The State’s fiscal year is a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year, and the budget that was already adopted did not reflect the steep statewide revenue losses that are being realized. There is substantial risk to cities that the State will amend its adopted 2020-2021 budget and reduce future revenues typically allocated to cities in order to help the State address its very substantial revenue losses."
Making matters worse, The Space Coast Office of Tourism estimates that the "...tourism business could be down by as much as 40% for the budget year that ends Sept. 30, which could equate to a shortfall of more than $1 billion. That is not only losses to business income and employee wages, but in taxes that benefit all residents in the form of roads and infrastructure, such as sales tax and gas taxes."
In light of the serious concerns about the financial status of governments at the city, county, and state levels, it should be obvious that this is not the time to be squandering funds on a project which is widely considered to be frivolous. The funding should be held in reserve for essential, high-priority expenses.
Brevard County Commissioners should take action to withdraw the $1.2M in transportation impact fee funds that have been earmarked for this project. The funds should instead be applied to other planned projects that will benefit West Melbourne.
The West Melbourne City Council should take action to cancel the project.
38. Q: How much will this project cost?
A: The agenda for the West Melbourne budget Workshop on 6 May 2020 lists a total budget for this project of $1,975,000. Of that total, $1,200,000 will come from transportation impact fees, and $775,000 will come from the city general fund. These numbers are estimates based on comparison with other projects. The actual cost will not be known until bids are received from construction companies and a winner is selected.