Nicholas Tarr was a midshipman on leave from the U.S. Naval Academy when he died in Inverness on Aug. 9, 2012.
Tarr, 21, was driving on Old Floral City Road when he failed to recognize a curve. His car hit a tree and split in two, throwing Tarr from his 2003 Lincoln sedan.
The curves in Citrus County roads are well-known dangers in the community. Roads particularly difficult to navigate will have an opportunity to become safer with improvements installed this summer, according to a Citrus County press release.
In February, the Florida Department of Transportation selected Citrus County to receive a $1.5-million grant to improve the safety of 141 curves on county roads. The safety installations include curve warning signs with solar-powered speed feedback signs, retro-reflective pavement markers along the curve edge lines and chevron signs, which feature arrows indicating a curve.
Areas that will receive improvements include Lecanto Highway, Pleasant Grove Road, Citrus Avenue, Withlacoochee Trail, Old Floral City Road, Fort Island Trail, Homosassa Trail, Ozello Trail and Gobbler Drive.
These nine roads were part of a study completed in 2012 by the FDOT. According to the study, these areas were chosen because of the number of crashes that have occurred there in recent years.
The areas that were studied by the FDOT were the site of 185 crashes in the past three years with a total of 156 injuries and two fatalities, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Kris Carson, an FDOT spokeswoman, said Citrus County was awarded the grant because of the results of this study.
“The whole goal is to reduce lane-departure crashes, and we’re finding that a lot of these happen on roads with curves,” Carson said.
The FDOT normally handles state roads, but because of the Citrus County study they were able to recognize the needs of local roads.
“Whenever we can take different grant money and help the locals make their roads safer, that’s something we definitely want to do,” Carson said.
Citrus County is the first of the five counties in its FDOT district – which also includes Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties – to receive safety improvements, according to Carson. The other counties will also receive grants.
Tobey Phillips, public information officer and a lifelong resident of Citrus County, said these roads could be difficult to navigate if the driver is unfamiliar with the curves.
Phillips said this grant was a pleasant surprise for Citrus County because no action was taken by the county to receive it. It is in the budget now, and because of the grant, the city gets the chance to make the necessary improvements.
“It’s huge to us because we know it needs to be done,” Phillips said.
Kitty Hicks, an employee at Wayne’s Citrus Cycles in Floral City, said roads such as Fort Island Trail, Ozello Trail and Gobbler Road are long, curvy and very popular for riding motorcycles.
Hicks, who enjoys riding these trails with her husband, said these safety improvements will mean a lot.
“Any visible markings for a motorcyclist to see will make a huge difference,” she said.