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Traffic signals set for busy Symmes Road intersection

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The intersection, currently marked only with unlighted stop signs, is among the busiest in the area.

By MELODY JAMESON

GIBSONTON - Drivers frustrated by roadway congestion and concerned about vehicle accidents here have something different to be thankful for this year – forthcoming traffic control signals.

But they may have to hold on to their patience until the summer holiday season to see them in place.

Lighted signalization to guide traffic – both vehicular and pedestrian — at the intersection of East Bay Drive with Symmes Road has been designed and scheduled for construction by Hillsborough County’s Public Works Department.

The intersection, currently marked only with unlighted stop signs, is among the busiest in the area as drivers use Symmes to access two primary highways to the west and east - U.S. 41 and U.S. 301 - as well as popular local recreational facilities to the south and north using East Bay Drive.

The project is slated to get underway between May and October, 2013, and most probably in July, according to Daniel Rhodes, a manager in the department’s roadway design section.

Part of a larger eventual project involving lane reconfigurations at that intersection, the signalization design calls for three poles bearing mast arms containing traffic control lights, Rhodes said. The standards are to be placed in the southeast corner, on the northwest corner and at the northeast corner of the intersection. Two will have a single mast while the third will carry two masts. Each must be custom-constructed for the specific site, the manager said.

The light situated at the northeast corner will direct northbound traffic while the northwest light will guide drivers west bound and the third light at the southwest corner will control two directions, east- and southbound vehicles, Rhodes added.

The broader concept for the intersection ultimately is to rework the roadway with changed lane patterns, but that portion of the project is on hold awaiting future funding, he noted. The signalization design implemented in 2013, however, is expected to mesh with the future reconfiguration.

In the meantime, the traffic control device aspect is proceeding, a need recognized by both county officials and local residents. Bob Campbell, traffic engineering manager, said this week that the volume of traffic through the intersection warranted moving ahead with the project.

And Lee Stevens, president of Concerned Citizens of Gibsonton, the community’s civic organization which has campaigned for light signals at the site for at least five years, echoed his comment. “It’s been greatly needed,” Stevens said, “and long anticipated.”

The total project cost has been budgeted at $415,000, including some pedestrian features, Campbell said. When completed next summer, he indicated the intersection also will have crosswalks, sidewalks at the corners and pedestrian controls on the light standards.

Copyright 2012 Melody Jameson

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