By Tamas Mondovics

Area residents recently had a chance to learn about a long-awaited project to increase traffic flow and improve safety at the intersection of Lithia Pinecrest, Lumsden, Durant and Bell Shoals Roads in Brandon.

Hosted by representatives of the Hillsborough County Public Works department, the open house, public information meeting was held at the Bloomingdale High School cafeteria, 1700 E. Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico.

Scheduled to start construction this summer, the more than $16 million, multi-phased project is said to retain the current traffic pattern on all the major approaches, with a few changes.

“One of the bigger changes is a right in, right out traffic pattern for Durant Rd,” said Hillsborough County Public Works project director Mary Sheets. “Lithia Pinecrest and Lumsden Roads will see extended or added raised medians and concrete traffic separators.”

The project will also provide drainage improvements, pedestrian safety features, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and an upgraded traffic signal system, officials said.

During construction, all lanes will be open to traffic between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., but lane closures and overnight detours will occur between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Access to homes and businesses will also be maintained throughout construction, which will occur within in the right-of-way or existing easements.

Officials said that existing utility service lines within the project area on Lithia Pinecrest Rd and Lumsden Rd will be relocated.

Commenting on the project’s length, which is expected to last 37 months, (summer of 2020) Sheets said, “To maintain traffic, we are doing the project in four sections, coordinating with local utilities.”

As for the reason for delay to start the project, which was first presented to the public nearly 10 years ago, Sheets referred to the lack of funding.

The project’s cost, length and end result, however, did not sit well with all in attendance, including Valrico residents Jay Bidlack, who did not shy away from voicing his disappointment, when he said, “This plan will create more problems than we have right now. They are spending $16 million dollars on some extra lanes, concrete medians and paint.”

Information presented at the meeting is now available on the Lithia Pinecrest Road and Lumsden Road Intersection project webpage.

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