Thursday’s serious crash on Rolling Acres Road should serve as a reminder to area residents and a wake-up call to Lake County commissioners about the very real dangers of traveling on that nasty thoroughfare.
The accident – one of many in recent years on that road – occurred at about 1:30 p.m., about a half mile south of the intersection of Rolling Acres Road and County Road 466. An older man’s car overturned after he lost control, swerved into the opposite lane, struck a trailer being towed by a truck and then hit an SUV. The man was airlifted as a trauma alert to Ocala Regional Medical Center.
A similar nightmare occurred in early December when a three-vehicle crash snarled traffic at the intersection of Rolling Acres Road and Lake Ella Road. The early evening crash left debris from the vehicles scattered across the roadway and forced cut-through traffic heading to County Road 466A to find alternative routes.
Unfortunately, crashes like those mentioned above seem to be the norm on Rolling Acres Road, with many occurring at the intersection of CR 466. Some of those include:
- November 2018: A three-vehicle crash involving a truck towing a Village Mover trailer took place when a 2016 Chevy Camaro traveling southbound on Rolling Acres Road failed to properly make the turn onto CR 466.
- November 2018: A teen driver traveling east on CR 466 pulled directly into the path of another vehicle while attempting to turn onto Rolling Acres. The 17-year-old’s father was ticketed in a similar crash in May 2013 in the same intersection.
- April 2018: A two-car collision took place when a man driving a 2006 Ford Explorer pulled into the path of a 2012 Hyundai Accent while trying to turn left onto Rolling Acres Road.
- December 2017: A Chevrolet pickup truck rear-ended a Kia Soul in the intersection.
- May 2017: A 2002 four-door Kia struck a 2014 Kia four-door sedan near the intersection.
- April 2017: A 2002 Toyota Tundra pickup attempting to make a left turn onto Rolling Acres Road collided with a 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe.
- February 2017: The front bumper of a 2003 Toyota Tacoma sideswiped the passenger side of a 2015 Toyota Corolla as its driver was turning right onto CR 466.Woman ticketed in accident at CR 466 and Rolling Acres Road
- February 2017: A three-vehicle accident took place when a driver of a 2010 Toyota Corolla failed to stop and plowed into the back of a 2016 Kia Soul, which as then pushed into the rear-end of a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.
- January 2017: Two vehicles collided in the intersection at a time when the roadways were facing greater congestion due to construction of a new clinic on Rolling Acres Road.
- June 2016: A 2002 four-door Buick collided with a 2007 BMW while attempting to make a left turn onto Rolling Acres Road from CR 466.
- May 2016: A 60-year-old motorcyclist was seriously injured and his girlfriend died days later at Ocala Regional Medical Center after the Harley-Davidson tricycle they were riding on slammed into the back of a car at the stoplight in the intersection.
- June 2015: A five-vehicle collision took place in the intersection. An ambulance transporting a patient from that crash scene was then rear-ended on U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and a tow truck responding to the accident also was involved in a wreck.
- May 2015: A motorcycle was struck by a vehicle while sitting at the stoplight at the busy intersection.
Wow! Now that we all can agree there are a plethora of problems with Rolling Acres Road, we’ll address the big ones.
Let’s start with the fact that it’s been designated as failing road (more on that later). Let’s also take a minute and recall our own stories of sitting in the long, long traffic lines that frequently exist between U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and CR 466. And let’s not overlook the fact that once motorists cross over CR 466 and head toward Lake Ella Road, the hilly portion of Rolling Acres Road seems to become a racetrack, with motorists appearing to believe they’re competing for a spot in the Daytona 500.
As we all know, speed and a hilly, busy roadway don’t make good partners. And that’s certainly the case with that stretch of Rolling Acres Road that is used as a cut-through by many drivers attempting to reach CR 466A via Micro Racetrack Road.
And don’t even get us started on the deteriorating pavement on the shoulders of the roadway. Very large and heavy trucks – many coming from the Ro-Mac facility on Rolling Acres Road – are constantly hauling supplies, lumber and roof trusses to the southern end of The Villages for the mega-growth that’s taking place there. They clearly are doing a number on the pavement along the roadway’s shoulders, which is yet another danger to motorists who could lose control of their vehicles if their tires run off into the grass or dirt around the broken blacktop.
As we mentioned earlier, Rolling Acres Road has been declared a failing road. It is in desperate need of improvements, but the powers-that-be on the Lake County Commission appear to have little interest in correcting this huge wrong that is endangering lives on a daily basis.
Last year, Lady Lake commissioners were approached by representatives of 7-Eleven about putting a minimart at the corner of Rolling Acres Road and CR 466 (yes, we know it was a preposterous idea). Several commissioners made their negative feelings clear about the idea and the minimart giant backed away from the plan earlier this month. But Commissioner Dan Vincent raised interesting points during the debate and shared a disturbing conversation he had with a Lake County commissioner.
Vincent said continued delays in funding for Rolling Acres Road improvements were behind his decision to oppose the minimart. And he said he felt particularly burned after he cast a vote in 2016 to allow the construction of a medical clinic on the road near The Villages Elementary of Lady Lake. At the time, he said, Lake County officials had hinted that the economic benefits of the new clinic could accelerate funding for improvements on the roadway.
“Had I known what I know now, I wouldn’t have voted for it,” Vincent said.
Vincent also said that he had spoken with Lake County Commissioner Josh Blake, who represents the Lady Lake area, about money to improve Rolling Acres Road – and he wasn’t happy with the response.
“Basically, he told me to ‘go soak it,’” Vincent said, adding that he’s tired of Lady Lake getting the short end of the stick.
If you ask us, every single Lake County commissioner should be ashamed of themselves for the mess that exists on Rolling Acres Road. Repairing that clogged and dangerous thoroughfare should be priority number one for that governing body. And doing it sooner rather than later should be a mandate.
Of course, we’re not going to hold our breath. As Vincent also said, we know that spending money in cities like Clermont and Mount Dora carries more appeal for the county commissioners. Those are much higher-profile cities and they apparently bring more clout than Lady Lake does.
If we had our way, we’d get this problem fixed quickly. That’s because we’d make each Lake County commissioner travel Rolling Acres Road every morning and again in the afternoon. We’d have them sit in the traffic line as they watched light after light change while moving inches at a time. And we’ve love to see them react to the Speed Racer-like atmosphere that exists between CR 466 and Lake Ella Road.
If we were betting folks, we’d wager that such an experience might make Blake and company sing a different tune. Who knows, maybe he’d actually do his job on the county commission by being an advocate for Lady Lake and get the money set aside to right the terrible wrong known as Rolling Acres Road.
But as we said, don’t hold your breath.