By Tamas Mondovics

In hopes of easing the traffic flow as well as support student safety, the long-promised installation of three new traffic signals on FishHawk Blvd. near Newsome High and Randall Middle Schools and at the entrance of the Starling subdivision is now underway.

Originally slated for a year earlier, the estimated $1.7 million projects is part of the Lake Hutto improvements, fully covered by Newland communities and the CDD III.

According to Newland Communities Vice President and General Manager, Tom Panaseny, the installation of the signals is scheduled to be completed and to be operational as early as August 2013, just in time for the new school year.

“This project is part of the operational improvements or FishHawk Phase 2,” Panaseny said.

When finished, two of the traffic signals will support the school traffic; one at the Newsome High School student parking area, while the other will be located at the new entrance into Randall Middle School which will be a combined entrance for Newsome and Randall at the existing Randall parking entrance with an additional turn lane into the school on the north side.

The current Newsome and Randall main entrances will remain accessible during emergencies.

The school traffic lights are said to be continuously green except for when activated by someone leaving the school entrances. During morning and afternoon school hours, the lights will be activated to allow for the safe entrance and departure of students and parents.

Panaseny added that the plans also include cross walks to provide safe pedestrian access across FishHawk Blvd., as well as smooth traffic flow at the schools at peak morning and afternoon hours, all of which focusing on the safety of the students.

“The benefits are better traffic flow for parents, teachers, students and buses at both the middle school and high school,” Panaseny said, adding that the signal at Starling also includes pedestrian cross walks for better access to the Starling neighborhood and FishHawk Sports Complex.

The project will also include adding left turn lanes into the FishHawk Sports Complex.

Newsome High School PTSA president, Liz Brewer, told the Osprey Observer that the approval of the project by the Hillsborough County Commission is a victory for the local parents and students.

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