After Fatal Accident on River Road, Residents Are Demanding Safety Changes

Changes coming to River Road after fatal head-on crash

NORTH PORT (WWSB) - A head-on collision left two people dead in North Port on Monday night. It happened along River Road near East River Road, right before getting to Winchester Boulevard. Today, the main concern is what authorities will do to make this busy road safer for drivers.

“I can tell you that we’ve had nine crashes there this year along our portion that we patrol,” Josh Taylor, the Public Information Officer for the City of North Port, told us.

That’s just in a small section of the long route. River Road runs from I-75 in Venice through North Port and all the way down to Englewood and Charlotte County.

“It is a dark road. It is a tight, two lanes. It’s windy. People are going fast – probably faster than they should be,” Taylor said.

For years, residents have been fighting for changes to be made. They’ve urged authorities to widen the two-lane road into a four to six-lane road. Other concerns are that the speed limit is still at 55 miles per hour and at night – unless there are bright lights, you can hardly see past a few feet in front of you.

“I just really think something should be done about it. The are is very bad. Cars pull out from behind other cars. I was sitting there in the turn lane, and I came so close to getting killed and that’s what happens there all the time,” Marsha Coats of North Port said.

This summer, the state took ownership of River Road after it swapped responsibilities of other streets with Sarasota County.

The Florida Department of Transportation does have an improvement project in the works to widen over five miles of the road and add bike lanes, sidewalks and lightning. However, construction is not expected to start until 2021.

“Wow.. so many people could be killed by then. That’s ridiculous,” Coats said.

Until then, local law enforcement says they will continue doing whatever they can to improve safety on River Road.

“We patrol it the best we can. We’re out there significantly. It’s just going to get more though. There’s more houses being built out near River Road and 41. It’s going to get busier. Widening those areas should help, and it can’t come soon enough,” Taylor expressed.

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