By LINDA CHION KENNEY
Residents and motorists concerned about development and traffic gridlock in and around the Big Bend interchange at I-75 voiced their concerns this month at a public hearing held at South Bay Church in Riverview.
There, they poured over documents, viewed maps and plans and gave their testimony for Hillsborough County and Florida Department of Transportation officials to consider in the months ahead.
Amy Modglin said traffic on Big Bend Road “is not only ridiculous but it is unsafe,” and is worried that proposed plans would “waste the taxpayers’ money and exacerbate the problem.” She reported that to drive from the front of her Waterset community to I-75 North “has consistently taken me 35 minutes,” which amounts to “1.3 miles in 35 minutes.”
“As a resident of Waterset, this is an extremely important issue to me and my family,” she added. “We purchased in this area two years ago, and while growth is a good sign of the economy, the rate of growth obviously far exceeds the infrastructure’s ability to catch up.”
Leslie Forrester issued a similar sentiment.
“Can we just pause on approving new communities until the infrastructure is fixed?” she asked.
David Smith, a 25-year Summerfield resident, said breakneck growth is nothing new. “I’ve seen this neighborhood just explode,” he said. “We need to look to the future and not just try to Band-Aid the problems we have now.”
Added Summerfield Master Community Association board member Remy Schott, “We need our voices heard, and we need to stick together to help our community because we need it.”
At issue are the widening of Big Bend Road (also known as C.R. 672) from west of Covington Garden Drive to east of Simmons Loop and the reconfiguration of the I-75 ramps at the Big Bend Road interchange.
Plans call for the widening of Big Bend Road from a four- to six-lane divided arterial, work that includes the replacement of Old Big Bend Road over Bullfrog Creek, as well as reconfiguring the interchange ramps at I-75 and the realignment of Old Big Bend Road, which would impact the Golden Aster Preserve.
To provide comments, make suggestions or ask questions about the project, contact Manuel E. Santos at 813-307-1921. Santos works for the Hillsborough County Capital Programs Department in the Fred B. Karl County Center in Tampa at 601 East Kennedy Blvd. Email: SantosM@hillsboroughcounty.org.
To discuss issues related to the project, contact Citizen Engagement at 812-272-5275.