By Kathy L. Collins
If you live in the greater Brandon area, you need to be aware of a study being conducted by the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Planning Commission. It is called Brandon Corridor and Mixed-Use Centers Pilot Project. It is especially pertinent to those who travel on Bloomingdale Ave. (in either direction from Lithia Pinecrest Rd. to Hwy 301), Lithia Pinecrest Rd. and Bryan Rd. and other area roads.
This study includes several recommendations including one to remove median/center turn lanes on Bloomingdale Ave. and turn it into a reversible expressway during peak hours. Essentially, the study proposes to remove all left turns and u-turns on Bloomingdale Ave.
Whether you are a resident, business owner or frequent visitor, this will have an impact on you, and it could be a negative impact.
Many local business owners, including John and Kay Sullivan, Founders of Winthrop, are concerned about this study and the lack of community involvement in the process. The Sullivans have organized business leaders and residents in the community in an attempt to let the public know about the study and provide them with an opportunity to voice their opinion. They have established saveBloomingdale@gmail.com for residents to subscribe to and get updates on this issue.
John Sullivan said at a recent gathering, “I became aware of the study and realized that not a lot of people were even aware of it. Closing off left turns is not good for any business along Bloomingdale Ave.” Sullivan added, “This proposal is not going to help alleviate traffic problems. It will hurt and probably destroy businesses in the area. The plan would require drivers to make endless right turns and find places where they can make u-turns to get to their destination.”
It should be noted that in its current state, there are no exceptions to the no left turns. So, if a student is trying to get to Bloomingdale High School, they will not be allowed to make a left turn to get to school.
Dr. Nancee Sorenson, President of HCC Brandon lived in Tucson, Arizona where a similar plan was implemented. Dr. Sorenson said, “It caused a lot of confusion with drivers and there were many accidents and near misses. It was a relief when they finally got rid of it. I firmly believe that implementation of this would be detrimental to the area.”
You can review the entire study by visiting http://www.planhillsborough.org/Brandon-corridor-mixed-use-centers/. You will find the study under New-Technical Memo 8-Mobilty_Options Improvement Evaluation. Residents are urged to review it and contact the County Commissioners and voice their opinion on the plan.
There are several public meetings scheduled. The public can attend and get questions answered and voice their opinion on the subject. These include a Brandon Community Engagement Meeting on Monday, October 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at The Regent located at 6437 Watson Rd., Room 101 in Riverview. The staff of the Planning Commission and MPO will made a presentation and then take questions and answers. Melissa Zornitta, Planning Commission Executive Director said, “We are very interested in getting community input.”
In addition, there will be a meeting on Monday, December 11 from 2-5 p.m. at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd.,18th floor, Planning Commission Board Room in downtown Tampa. If you cannot attend, there are plans to record the hearings You can also provide your comment by visiting http://www.planhillsborough.org/brandon-corridor-mixed-use-centers/.