By Brad Stager
A growing number of people making Valrico their home means an increase in cars traveling on what were once country roads, adding up to congestion and delays for drivers, especially during peak travel times.
Among the plans in Eastern Hillsborough County to keep traffic moving is a project to improve the intersection of Lithia Pinecrest Rd. and S. Miller Rd., just north of Bloomingdale Avenue.
Plans for the project presented at an open house held by Hillsborough County call for resurfacing and restriping existing pavement on S. Miller Rd. to create an additional left-turn lane from westbound S. Miller Rd. to the southbound lanes of Lithia Pinecrest Rd. at the T-intersection. The traffic signal system will be upgraded and pedestrian safety features will be added.
Relieving congestion on S. Miller Rd. is the desired outcome, according to Steffanie Workman, who is managing the project for Hillsborough County.
“The intent is to relieve the pressure on Miller,” she said.
Julia Delones is a longtime resident of the area near the junction and expressed appreciation for the county’s effort, but is skeptical as to how well the plan will help a situation involving human behavior as much as a high traffic count.
“The extra turn lane will help, but it’s not going to fix it because they block the intersection,” said Delones, referring to a motoring technique known as ‘blocking the box.’
Entering an intersection with traffic backed up to the point where the car cannot clear the intersection, blocking the movement of other cars, is not only a matter of courtesy, it is against the law according to Florida Statute 316.2061, which says in part, “No driver shall enter an intersection or a marked crosswalk unless there is sufficient space on the other side of the intersection or crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle…”
It is a problem that Workman acknowledges does exist.
“Cars shouldn’t be blocking the intersection, but they do,” she said.
The project is part of Hillsborough County’s Capital Improvement Program and is estimated to cost $356,000. Actual road work will take about 60 to 90 days and the project is expected to be completed by August 2020. No road closures are anticipated.