Roundabout at Wheeler and Highview roads in Seffner to be complete early next year

SEFFNER — There is no way around it.

A roundabout is under construction at Wheeler and Highview roads, meaning a detour route for drivers until January. Then, a drastically different intersection.

The project is an undertaking of KB Homes Orlando, the builder behind Emerald Oaks, a new community being built at the northeast corner of the intersection.

"The roundabout is a road improvement to provide better access for that community," said Cara Kane, a spokesman for KB.

J. Maveler Construction is under contract to complete the roundabout by early 2011. There are 91 home sites planned in Emerald Oaks. With models expected to open in the spring, more cars are headed to the area.

County spokesman Steve Valdez said the roundabout should improve traffic flow.

"Roundabouts are a more efficient and effective way to process traffic through an intersection," Valdez said. "Rather than having to stop and wait your turn, it's easier to be put in a yield situation where you can go around to the street where you want to go."

Valdez calls roundabouts more economical and said the city is behind in utilizing them. The county is currently building one at Race Track and Boy Scout roads in North Tampa, and there are more than 2,000 in the United States.

Still, drivers are leery.

"There's a lot of what I call irrational opposition," national task force on roundabouts chairman Eugene R. Russell Sr. told the New York Times, "(Americans) just don't understand roundabouts."

Several housing communities are located at or near the Seffner intersection, including Carriage Crossing, Wheeler's Landing and Lakeview Village.

Residents of Lakeview Village are concerned as to whether there is adequate space for the roundabout.

"It came as a total shock because that intersection is not big enough for a roundabout," said Jean Bright, HOA secretary. "It's going to be an absolute mess."

Bright said in order to build it, Lakeview will lose part of its front entrance. She's also upset about being forced into a detour. She said it will add 3 miles to her drive time.

Construction will impact traffic on a number of major thoroughfares, including Lakewood Drive, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Parsons Avenue and, of course, Highview and Wheeler roads.

KB will simultaneously develop the adjoining land. The builder anticipates lots in Emerald Oaks to sell quickly come summer 2011. The are 1,200- to 3,000-square-foot homes planned at an affordable price, Kane said, adding: "We expect to be able to compete with resales and foreclosures in the area."

"When you have the right home at the right price, a lot of home buyers are going to be interested," she said.

Bright isn't so sure.

"We have enough traffic without a lot more homes coming in," she said. "I have no idea how a roundabout is going to work with more traffic and the lack of space. I guess we'll see in January."

Sarah Whitman can be reached at (813) 661-2439 or swhitman@sptimes.com.

Roundabout at Wheeler and Highview roads in Seffner to be complete early next year 11/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 25, 2010 3:30am]

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