By STEPHEN FLANAGAN JACKSON
Crowded and congested roads and highways continue to be the number one concern of the public in South Shore.
At recent public forums and at one-on-one meetings with a Hillsborough County Commissioner, citizens overwhelmingly voiced transportation — or roads — as a top priority. Other top concerns for South Shore residents are education, economic development and tourism.
Some road quotes generated out of these recent public get-togethers in South Shore include:
“It used to take me 11 minutes to get to Sun City Center from Riverview. Now it takes 20 minutes. The uncontrolled growth we have here is absolutely insane.”
“All this building is going on, and roads are just not able to handle the increase in traffic.”
“My first concern is transportation. The roads are just terrible down here.”
“I can honestly say that the traffic is insane here.”
“We have 10,000 new homes being built in the area without anything being done to the roads. It’s getting horrible.”
Is any relief in sight? Maybe. Maybe not.
Hillsborough County voters will have the option on Nov. 6 to vote “yes” or “no” on a 30-year 1-cent sales tax hike to fund a transportation project, including mass transit. However, this initiative is not a slam dunk as it faces opposition from interest groups, which favor smaller government and lower taxes.
Plus, research reveals that the area’s roads will continue to be overburdened as an additional 600,000 new residents are anticipated to move to Hillsborough County by 2043.
One Hillsborough County Commissioner up for reelection Nov. 6 recognizes the problem. According to Stacy White, the incumbent District 4 County Commissioner, “Roads continue to be the highest priority throughout my district.”
White identified several road projects upcoming in the Sun City Center, Wimauma and Ruskin communities. White also stressed a “robust public outreach program,” saying, “Contact my office and we will have county staff include you in the notification process.”
Transportation or road projects listed by Commissioner White include:
• PD&E study of widening 19th Avenue N.E. from U.S. 41 to U.S. 301. This study will be conducted between October 2018 and September 2019 following completion of a preliminary land-use assessment and transportation study.
• S.R. 674 resurfacing and turn-lane improvements scheduled to begin fall 2018 and conclude fall 2020. This project will include a 5-foot sidewalk along the north side of S.R. 674.
• Paseo Al Mar Boulevard extension and I-75 flyover. This will connect the east section of Paseo Al Mar Boulevard (the eastbound extension of Apollo Beach Boulevard) to the west side with a bridge over I-75. Construction will begin late 2019.
• I-75/Big Bend interchange improvements. This should be completed in five to eight years.