BRANDON — The tiny meeting room at the Bloomingdale library filled up before the public forum even started.
It was standing room only, and the air conditioner limped along, making it a sweat box inside. But nobody seemed to complain about the heat.
Instead, the crowd gathered Tuesday night to discuss four proposed intersection improvements on State Road 60 and Bloomingdale Avenue that will affect some residential areas.
If the proposals make it past the planning stage, county officials say commuters from Brandon and Valrico will get relief from long waiting times on Bloomingdale Avenue intersections at Little and Pearson roads and SR 60 intersections at Dover and Mulrennan roads. The proposed intersection improvements offered turning lanes, sidewalks, bike lanes, wheelchair-accessible ramps and possibly signals, county officials said. Planners presented three scenarios for each intersection improvement using land from the west side, east side or a little of both.
Community members had a chance to videotape their concerns, fill out a comment sheet, or speak with county officials and consulting engineers during the forum.
Longtime residents Jim and Linda Dougherty live across from the Bloomingdale Fire Department near the east side of the Little Road intersection.
"We're worried if they expand the intersection, our houses will be practically on the sidewalk," Linda Dougherty said. "Will it devalue our home when we decide to sell? Will we be reimbursed on property taxes from loss of property?"
Doug Templin, a disabled veteran, has lived on the southwest corner of Pearson Road and Bloomingdale Avenue for 20 years. He said he fears the proposed improvements would encroach on his land. In one scenario, the county's map showed a new retention wall that would be built very close to Templin's pond.
"I already lost seven silver leaf maple trees when TECO came through," Templin said.
Although SR 60 improvements didn't really draw much attention during the forum, Boyd and Betty Hanes wanted more information. The couple, who live in Strawberry Ridge near the Dover Road intersection, worries about all of the accidents they've seen at the intersection. Without improvements, they suspect things will only get worse.
"We're happy about the improvements, and whichever one costs the least is good for us," Betty Hanes said.
The preliminary design and engineering study will be completed in two phases. Planners expect to finish SR 60 by the end of August. Designs for Bloomingdale Avenue should be available by November, county officials said.
Construction funds are in place for the intersection at Little Road and Bloomingdale Avenue. But county officials have not set a completion date.
Traci Rader can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.