Friday, November 17, 2017
Transportation

Project to ease Lithia Pincrest, Lumsden intersection traffic

RECOMMENDED READING


BRANDON — An $11.4 million project aimed at relieving congestion at the intersection of Lithia Pinecrest and Lumsden roads is slated to begin later this year.

The project, expected to be completed in 12 months, will add new turning lanes, through lanes, medians, bicycle lanes and sidewalks at one of Brandon's busiest intersections for motorists driving to and from Bloomingdale, FishHawk, Lithia and Valrico.

The intersection, also fed by traffic from nearby Durant and Bell Shoals roads, is used by 19,316 vehicles a day, according to Hillsborough County officials.

"The approaches have unconventional, skewed crossings that create conflicting movements for the vehicles," according to a notice on the project's website. "In addition, the lane configurations and turn lane lengths do not provide adequate operational capacity for current and future traffic demands."

The report notes further that "due to the increase of residents and continued development in the surrounding area, the intersection is operating beyond its design capacity, resulting in significant vehicle delay due to traffic congestion and a high number of accidents."

Michelle Hope works at the Tea Cup Tea Room on Lithia Pinecrest Road, just east of Lumsden Road. Any improvements "would be good," she said.

"I see a lot of congestion early in the morning and later during rush hour there."

The intersection improvements may cushion the blow for drivers who had hoped to see Lithia Pinecrest widened from two lanes to four between Lumsden Road and Bloomingdale Avenue.

The $80 million widening project, debated for six years, was initially heralded as the solution to backups in the congested corridor. Local opposition and budget woes now appear to have killed the project.

The county first studied widening the road in 2006 with a project development and environmental study to assess the impact of any potential widening of Lithia Pinecrest. Such studies are necessary before a project can apply for federal funding.

The widening project, backed by the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, was revisited last September by the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The agency, which includes representatives from local governments and transportation agencies, oversees transportation planning for Hillsborough County.

A new study of the proposed widening concluded with a Metropolitan Planning Organization recommendation last month that the project be placed on the "constrained road list," meaning it cannot be widened without the approval from county commissioners.

Metropolitan Planning Organization and county staff are now working on that recommendation, which will have to be approved by county commissioners.

"It would be a confirmation of public sentiment and opposition to the widening," said Wally Blain, principal planner at the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

With no federal or local funding for the project — and none expected in the near future — it appears all but dead for now. The county could revive the widening project, but that appears highly unlikely in the near future given current budget constraints.

While traffic along Lithia Pinecrest is projected to double during the next 20 years, local opposition also heavily impacts planning, said Steve Valdez, a Hillsborough County spokesman.

"Future traffic projections are one thing, but local and community support is just as heavily weighted as need," he said.

Widening Lithia Pinecrest from two lanes to four from Bloomingdale Avenue to FishHawk Trails is still on the books but has no funding at this point and no projected start date for construction, Valdez said.

Kevin Brady can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Mother reconciles with Plant City DMV employee who made her stand outside with baby

Mother reconciles with Plant City DMV employee who made her stand outside with baby

PLANT CITY — After Liz Gately was told to wait outside the Plant City’s Tax Collector office to renew her car registration with her 1-year-old last week, the internet fought back. Facebook posts from Gately, 27, as well as bystanders and other mother...
Published: 11/16/17
Holiday events begin, annual traffic snarls follow

Holiday events begin, annual traffic snarls follow

A few favorite holiday events are gearing up and that means impact to traffic, starting with the annual Times Turkey Trot, which will temporarily close streets Thanksgiving morning in Clearwater beginning at 6 a.m. until approximately noon. The follo...
Published: 11/15/17
Moms with infants told to wait outside Plant City DMV

Moms with infants told to wait outside Plant City DMV

PLANT CITY — Liz Gatley needed to renew her car registration. As if that task wasn’t cumbersome enough, she says a Department of Motor Vehicles manager told her she had to wait outside until she could be served because her 1-year-old daughter was wit...
Published: 11/10/17
Updated: 11/11/17
The Cross Bay Ferry won’t come back this fall. What about 2018?

The Cross Bay Ferry won’t come back this fall. What about 2018?

Still waiting for the Cross Bay Ferry to return? It’s going to be a while — say, 2018 at the earliest.The ferry’s supporters, most notably St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, had hoped to bring the boat back for another season after the first six-mon...
Published: 11/10/17

Work on Sunshine Skyway’s rest areas to last two more years

We often go fishing near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and are wondering what’s happening with the rest area and parking lot? It looks like there’s work going on there. How long will the rest area be closed off?Mike WalkerThis is a state Department of T...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/13/17
Hillsborough loses transit leader Katharine Eagan to a better funded agency

Hillsborough loses transit leader Katharine Eagan to a better funded agency

TAMPA — Katharine Eagan, the leader of Hillsborough County’s transit agency, is leaving the job just a month after implementing a widespread overhaul of the county’s bus network.She will take over as CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny, Pa., which...
Published: 11/08/17
Updated: 11/09/17
Speakers give mixed reviews to new Hillsborough bus-route overhaul

Speakers give mixed reviews to new Hillsborough bus-route overhaul

TAMPA — Hillsborough’s transit agency heard its first public comment Monday since overhauling its bus network and cutting about 20 percent of its routes last month.A handful of people spoke at the agency’s board meeting, with one praising the new net...
Published: 11/06/17
Updated: 11/07/17
New DOT work plan includes $32 million for U.S. 41/SR 54 interchange

New DOT work plan includes $32 million for U.S. 41/SR 54 interchange

LAND O’LAKES — Twenty-one months ago, the Florida Department of Transportation said it was hitting the brakes on planning improvements at a traffic-clogged intersection in central Pasco.Instead, the DOT said it would await recommendations from Pasco ...
Updated one month ago
Planning commission to rethink Bloomingdale Avenue reversible lane proposal

Planning commission to rethink Bloomingdale Avenue reversible lane proposal

RIVERVIEW — Business owners and residents of Bloomingdale Avenue breathed a cautious sigh of relief Monday after Hillsborough County planning commissioners said converting the busy roadway into reversible lanes is no longer an option.The proposed cha...
Updated one month ago
From Nature’s Way to ‘raceway:’ residents worry about speeding on neighborhood boulevard

From Nature’s Way to ‘raceway:’ residents worry about speeding on neighborhood boulevard

VALRICO — It’s a sound that many residents living along Nature’s Way Boulevard say is all too familiar.Engines revving and then the sound of motorcycles and cars flooring the gas pedal on a 30-mile-per-hour roadway often wake up residents in the midd...
Updated one month ago