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Carrollwood's long-running debate over calming traffic goes on

CARROLLWOOD — A five-year effort to slow down speeders and reduce cut-through traffic in Carrollwood appears to be working, Hillsborough County officials say.

Nevertheless, the controversy surrounding the project is poised to go on for at least a few months more.

County commissioners voted this month to postpone a decision on whether to accept the results of a $2.4 million traffic calming project and declare the issue closed.

Now the commission, with three new members, is expected to take up the issue again in January.

That likely means Carrollwood residents who are deeply and sometimes bitterly divided over the presence of speed humps on their streets will get at least one more shot at the topic.

Along with speed humps, the project has brought new crosswalks, bike lanes and traffic control signs to both Original Carrollwood and Carrollwood Village. In response to previous complaints, the county already has removed many signs and 22 speed humps, although many more remain.

The commission's 5-0 vote, with Commissioners Ken Hagan and Jim Norman absent, came after about a dozen residents showed up to complain about the traffic calming measures.

Carrollwood Village resident Jennifer Fritch said the county's project left her neighborhood with "too many signs, too many humps, too many scarred roads and too much damage to way too many vehicles."

"I feel like they have come into our neighborhood, stayed for a while, and when they left, they forgot to clean up their mess," she said.

Original Carrollwood resident Charm Thometz, brought in what she called a show-and-tell prop: a cracked front spring from her family's van, one of the repairs that have cost her more than $2,000 this year.

"I had to have two new springs installed," she said. "I've also had to have the front end realigned for the second time this year. My mechanic asked me where we lived, and when I told him I lived in Original Carrollwood he said that the speed bumps play a significant role in my broken spring.

"He also smiled and gave me a handful of his cards to pass around to my neighbors," she said.

But from a traffic calming standpoint, the project has been a success, said Peter Brett, Hillsborough County's traffic engineering manager.

On average, the speed of traffic in Carrollwood has dropped more than 5 mph, or about 12.5 percent, according to a before-and-after traffic analysis of the area. The volume of traffic is down more than 22 percent, and crashes dropped 27 percent from 2005 to 2009.

Maybe so, but several commissioners said the county needs to do more to address the continued complaints.

"My sense is that it's still not right," Commissioner Mark Sharpe said, "so, you know, we're just going to keep doing it until we get it right."

Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.

Carrollwood's long-running debate over calming traffic goes on 11/04/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 11:51am]
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