FISHHAWK RANCH — Two lanes of road between Brandon and Lithia isn't enough.
That's a given, considering the area's explosive growth earlier this decade. Now, it's a question of what to do about the 11-mile stretch of Lithia Pinecrest Road between State Road 60 and County Road 39. About 120 people turned out Nov. 18 at the Palmetto Club to offer their ideas.
The alternatives for widening Lithia Pinecrest Road feature three lanes in both directions, a 22-foot-wide grass median and 4-foot-wide paved shoulders to accommodate a bike lane and sidewalks.
Some Lithia Ridge residents have been waiting for a traffic signal at Lithia Pinecrest Road and Lithia Ridge Road for years, and they've been told to be patient.
"It's very dangerous for our kids trying to turn left to go to high school. Nobody slows down," said Helena Daniels.
For Mary Fowler, the overcrowded road means she has to allow an hour and 45 minutes to get to her job on the west side of Riverview.
"It's impossible to get out of there after 7:10 a.m.," she said.
Most of those at the meeting seemed to favor the road widening, but there were some residents from the area between FishHawk Boulevard and County Road 39 who expressed concern about urban sprawl leaping south from Bloomingdale Avenue. Residents and business owners seemed to generally favor widening the road between State Road 60 and Lumsden Road as long as they are fully compensated for any businesses or property that get claimed by the project.
"(Business owners) also don't seem to be that worried right now because the (project) is not funded yet and nobody's knocking on their doors," project manager Steve Gordillo said.
Still undecided is which parts of the road will be widened. Next spring, officials will gather formal public comments and present it to the Federal Highway Administration in late 2009.