CARROLLWOOD — Construction crews will begin a $2.4 million project this summer at the intersection of N Dale Mabry Highway and N Lakeview Drive, hoping to eliminate morning and afternoon backups.
The project, which focuses on Lakeview's winding southern intersection at Dale Mabry, will include several improvements on Lakeview, including a second left-turn lane for traffic heading south onto Dale Mabry. It will also provide a separate lane for right turns and through-traffic.
Making a turn from Lakeview has long been a source of frustration for drivers from the Lake Platt West neighborhoods north of Bearss Avenue.
Morning and afternoon rush hours are particularly tough, with commuters turning left from Lakeview competing with traffic coming into the area and toward the administrative offices of Seminole Electric Cooperative Inc. on the southeast corner.
Lakeview's two westbound lanes clog with cars trying to turn left, causing motorists who want to turn right to get stuck, as well.
Backups can stretch a couple hundred yards in the mornings with commuters heading to work and in the afternoons with employees for Seminole Electric leaving to go home.
"It's a pain, especially if you get stuck behind a school bus," said plumber Mike Casey, who lives off Fox Lake Drive. The logjams last from around 7:15 to 9:15 a.m., he said.
In the afternoons, Seminole Electric employees turn through an opening in the Lakeview median to head west.
"It can be challenging in the afternoons," company spokesman Dave Szymanski said.
County engineers think a solution rests with three fixes:
• Adding a second left-turn lane on Lakeview.
• Lengthening those turn lanes so they can accommodate more cars.
• Setting aside Lakeview's right westbound lane for through-traffic and right turns.
The existing left-turn lane holds a half dozen vehicles, and fewer if a school bus is waiting. The county's plan would nearly triple capacity.
"It's a lot of work but it will be a heck of a lot more efficient once it's completed," public works spokesman Steve Valdez said.
Not everybody is thrilled with the idea, though.
The plan eliminates a cut-through in the Lakeview median near the Shell gas station on the northeast corner. Owner George Jalo said that removing the cut-through could hurt business because many of his customers use it when they exit the station.
Jalo, who has owned the station for 13 years, circulated a petition at his Five Flags Shell a few months ago asking county commissioners to preserve the cut-through. About 110 people signed it.
"If they shut that down they're going to shut down our business," he said.
Valdez said county engineers studied Jalo's idea and concluded that keeping the cut-through would create an unsafe driving condition because it would encourage drivers to cross three lanes of traffic.
"It just did not meet acceptable engineering practices," he said.
Valdez said the reconstruction project will include new street lighting and sidewalks and bicycle lanes on both sides of Lakeview. The work is expected to start in early summer and last six to eight months.
Rich Shopes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.