By Tamas Mondovics
Construction of a brand new community named, La Collina, (Homes by WestBay), which began last month in Valrico just northeast of Lithia Pinecrest and Lumsden Rd., is now in full swing and, as expected, is already causing some inconvenience for local commuters.
Unfortunately, even as the new neighborhood takes shape in the coming months, motorists will need to exercise a bit more patience due to the County’s plans to begin the $11.6 million improvement project on the infamous Lithia Pinecrest, Durant and Lumsden Rd. intersection located nearby later this year.
Funded through the Public Works Capital Improvement Program, the plan to ease the congestion at the intersection has been in the making for several years. The project, however, has seen its fair share of delays.
The advertised last start date for the yearlong intersection construction was scheduled for early this year, but according to officials, the earliest any work to begin will be closer to year’s end.
“This is a very difficult project involving local residents and their properties and it takes time to work out and finalize all the details,” said Project Manager Benjamin Kniesly.
In an earlier public meeting interview, Hillsborough County Project Manager William “Reg” Alford emphasized the project’s complexity when he told all present, “The approaches have unconventional, skewed crossings that create conflicting movements for the vehicles along with the problem of the lane configurations and turn lane lengths, which do not provide adequate operational capacity for current and future traffic.”
Hillsborough County hired CH2M HILL to conduct a Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) study to determine the existing conditions and recommend improvements.
According to officials with the County Public Works department, Durant Rd. will be converted to right in / right out traffic only and the traffic separator will be extended on Lithia, south of the Lumsden intersection.
In addition, a traffic separator will also be added to Lumsden Rd., east of the intersection.
Traffic patterns will remain the same on all the major approaches, but improvements for the intersection and connecting roadways will also include a number of added right and left turn lanes, extensions of existing turn lanes, replacement of existing medians and traffic separators as well as adding raised medians and concrete traffic separators.
The existing traffic signals and poles will also be replaced and sidewalks will be added or replaced to improve pedestrian connectivity through the corridor, officials said.
While access to nearby businesses are said to be maintained throughout construction, some areas will see traffic lane closures as well as traffic control measure for the safety of the workers, pedestrians and other motorists.
Officials said that most of the construction will be on right of way and that at times it will be necessary to work on private property, but ensured that all areas affected by the construction will be restored.
For more information about the project, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/index.aspx?NID=2425.
Photo: Lithia Pinecrest, Durant and Lumsden Road intersection
Cutline: Motorists make their way through the intersection of Lithia Pinecrest, Durant and Lumsden Rd. Hillsborough County is planning on an upcoming improvement for the intersection scheduled to begin early this year.