BRANDON — Opinions were mixed Tuesday night as the county unveiled to residents its proposed improvements for the intersections at Lithia Pinecrest, Lumsden, Bell Shoals and Durant roads.
With six approaches and high traffic volumes, the intersection is in need of an update, county officials said during a presentation at Bell Shoals Baptist Church.
Changes include adding additional right, left and through lanes; concrete traffic separators; bicycle lanes on both sides of Lithia Pinecrest Road; as well as extending some turn lanes.
Construction is scheduled to begin by mid 2012, and planners estimate the project will cost about $11.6 million.
"There's no easy fix, unfortunately," said Marie Robinson, who travels through the intersection to and from work each day. She cited illegal U-turns and too much traffic coming from the FishHawk area as the intersection's major problems.
"I guess this is probably about the best plan I've seen," Robinson said.
For Jerry Uri, whose family owns the BP gas station on the corner of Lithia Pinecrest and Lumsden roads, the proposed improvements are disappointing.
"This is going to kill our business," Uri said.
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The changes mean those traveling westbound on Lumsden Road will not be able to turn left directly into the gas station and will instead have to make a U-turn farther down the road.
"We are going to lose a lot of traffic, which could be about 50 percent of our business," he said.
The proposed improvements also include allowing right turns only onto Lithia Pinecrest Road from Bell Shoals Road and right turns only where Durant Road approaches Lumsden Road.
This change would affect John Ligori, who owns Bell Shoals Animal Hospital, but he said he understands why the plan is the way it is.
"I think they did a pretty good job of minimizing the negative impact on neighborhood businesses," Ligori said.
Gladys Will, who has lived off Bell Shoals Road for 30 years, remembers the days when traffic was only a hum she heard as she pruned her rose bushes. Now, she said traffic is so heavy it sounds like she lives near the highway.
"We don't want Lithia Pinecrest made into an interstate," she said. Widening the road and adding new lanes, she said, is just another step toward that.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2442.