By Brian Bokor
The long-awaited transition of the Rhodine Rd./Balm Riverview Rd. intersection from the flashing, four-way stop beacon to a fully integrated signalized traffic light is moving forward with county officials in the process of reviewing public input for the project that has been uploaded to the Hillsborough County Engagement Hub website at www.publicinput.com/hcengage.
The project will consist of two phases; the first to install the traffic signal, with the second to widen the intersection and add dedicated left and right-turn lanes in all four directions. Sidewalks will be added or replaced to improve pedestrian connectivity through the corridor with a retention pond incorporated on the northwest corner of the intersection to improve drainage. All enhancements being made to the intersection will ensure motorist, cyclist and pedestrian safety by incorporating Vision Zero principles.
Comments posted on the engagement hub website overwhelmingly favored the upgrade to a fully functional light, with many wondering why it had not yet happened.
“There is some traffic congestion relief on the horizon,” said County Commissioner Stacy White. “The most requested traffic signal in my district should be installed and turned on at the intersection of Balm Riverview and Rhodine Rds. in the next couple of months.”
White added, “Originally, it was supposed to be complete by the beginning of this summer, but there have been some unavoidable construction delays. Saying that, I have been working closely with county staff on this signal and I’m happy to tell you it will be coming in two phases—the first phase, which you should see begin shortly, will be the signalization project, with the poles and lights being installed. The second phase will be coming next year, and you’ll see some turn lane enhancements being built to provide some additional relief. This has been a long-awaited project in my district and I’m sure no one is more excited than the residents of Riverview and South County.”
Impacts for residents and commuters in the area to be aware of will include phased lane closures causing temporary delays during the construction period. With a phased closure, the intersection will remain open to traffic with intermittent lane closures in either direction necessary to complete construction. The $6 million project is funded by the county with work expected to begin shortly, starting with TECO relocating several of its transmission poles and continuing through completion in the spring of 2023.
County leaders, focused on increasing safety and reducing injury, have been deciding on incorporating roundabouts as opposed to traffic signals on a more prevalent basis throughout Hillsborough County, as evidenced by several throughout FishHawk as well as others planned for our area including: Miller and Durant Rds., Durant and Little Rds., Dorman and Boyette Rds., Balm Riverview and Symmes Rds. and the new Riverview/Alafia Conservation Park entrance.
When asked if a roundabout was considered at the Rhodine Rd. and Balm Riverview Rd. intersection, Sandra Gonzalez. P.E., design manager for Hillsborough County’s Capital Programs Department, replied that there are several factors considered when making these decisions, including, but not limited to, “existing traffic flow, projected traffic flow for the next 20-30 years, crashes at the intersection and right-of-way availability. Also, if the flow of traffic is not balanced with equal inflow and outflow volumes, the roundabout will not work as effectively as would a traditional traffic light. This is the case on Rhodine Rd., where there is a heavy flow of traffic from east to west in the mornings with the reverse situation in the afternoons.”
The Hillsborough County Engagement Hub represents the online home for outreach and listening efforts that assist county leaders with decisions that impact the future of our community. On this site, results of previous surveys can be reviewed and residents are given the opportunity to share their input on projects in the works.