PUBLISHED AUG. 18, 2016
By PENNY FLETCHER
FDOT knows what residents need, but is short on funds to accomplish it.
With a projected 330,000 new residents coming into the county by 2020, it is trying to keep up with traffic needs and is doing everything it can to move forward when funding for a study or project is released.
Currently, one study is almost complete that could greatly alleviate traffic on U.S. 41 from Kracker Avenue in Gibsonton to S.R. 676 (Causeway Boulevard). This is a popular “back way” into Brandon to avoid S.R. 60’s bumper-to-bumper traffic.
“This study is almost complete,” said David Botello, public information specialist for DOT’s Tampa District. “It is analyzing widening U.S. 41 from four lanes to six lanes between those two points. There is currently no money, however, for design or construction.”
A public hearing was held in January at the Gardenville Recreation Center in Gibsonton, and most residents attending were in favor of more lanes.
The proposal is for east-west traffic coming off Symmes Road and Gibsonton Drive onto U.S. 41 to have six lanes instead of four. This project is slated to begin in 2021.
Also on the plan list is a traffic signal update at U.S. 41 and Gibsonton Drive; repairing gaps on Old Big Bend Road from west of Covington Garden Drive to west of Lincoln Road; a railroad crossing replacement on U.S. 41 in Gibsonton near Archie Creek; and having all four lanes resurfaced in Sun City Center from east of Commercial Center Drive to east of U.S. 301.
While examining the list of anticipated projects, I felt the one titled “Intelligent Transportation System along Interstate 75 from the Manatee County Line to end just south of Big Bend Road” needed further explanation, so I asked Botello to explain what that is.
“An Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) is a major national initiative to improve information, communication and control technologies in order to improve the efficiency of surface transportation. Technological innovations apply direct communications and information processing to improve the efficiency and safety of surface transportation systems. These include onboard navigation for vehicles, emergency communications systems, electronic toll/fare collections, traffic management centers and more.
“The project will most likely include the use of fiber-optic lines for communication,” Botello said, “dynamic message boards to relay information to drivers, microwave sensors and cameras to send information back to the Traffic Management Center in the Sunguide Building.”
These signs can prove helpful — especially when they flash the amber and silver alerts — or, as one did Aug. 10, that said “Use caution, wrong-way driver,” on the northbound side of I-75 around 2 p.m.
Another such ITS is planned for I-75 from just south of Big Bend Road to Progress Boulevard.
Meanwhile, the 2017 list shows “rebuilding existing diagonal span wire to mast arm” at U.S. 301 and Riverview Drive.
Botello explained that traffic signals will be replaced from a span wire (where the traffic signals hang from a wire over the roadway) to a mast arm, which attaches the signals to a structure.”
This configuration is much safer, especially in heavy traffic areas, he explained.
If funded, there will be a bridge replacement from east of Dickman Road to west of Wyandotte Road, an area that will be getting much more traffic as the TECO Environmental Center continues to grow.
The last thing on the current project list was the Apollo Beach extension from U.S. 41 to Paseo Al Mar Boulevard.
This requires new road construction that is slated to begin in 2021. It is planned to go from U.S. 41 to intersect with Waterset Boulevard, cross over I-75 and connect with Paseo Al Mar in the Belmont community that has its main entrance on U.S. 301.
This is not the same road that Newland Communities will build from the corner of U.S. 41 and Apollo Beach Boulevard through Waterset. That article is at ObserverNews.net.