On May 23, Hillsborough County held a public information meeting at the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library for the Lithia Pinecrest Road Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study, Capital Improvement Program Project 69649000.

The turnout was tremendous with nearly 150 concerned residents showing up to participate with support from local leaders, including Florida House Representative of District 69 Danny Alvarez, Hillsborough County Commissioner of District 4 Michael Owen and Assistant County Administrator of Public Works Kim Byer in attendance.

A PD&E Study is an environmental and engineering process that was developed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in response to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The PD&E study process ensures that transportation projects are developed with consideration of current engineering standards, project costs and minimization of social and environmental impacts, while involving the public throughout the entire study process.

Upon entering the room, several large posters lined the walls, each depicting one geographical section of the study area. This area includes Lithia Pinecrest Road from Fishhawk Boulevard 6.2 miles to Lumsden Road, and Bloomingdale Avenue 1.3 miles from Culbreath Road to Pearson Road. The total project length is 7.5 miles.

Participants were asked to visually represent where they lived, worked, shopped, played, worshiped, and, if applicable, where kids went to school by placing color-coordinated dots on the maps where these activities occurred. Other displays included one asking if locals would consider utilizing walking or bike paths if the paths were improved and better connected and another that showed turning movement volumes at intersections along the corridor.

Teams of county planners and Public Works representatives were readily available throughout the room, answering any questions from the large audience and explaining the maps and charts displayed.

Safe mobility for all roadway users, regardless of mode of travel, will be considered and incorporated into the study and the alternatives evaluated. Alternatives will be generated based on the result of a traffic analysis and feedback provided by the community.

These alternatives may include:

• Widening for additional through-lane capacity.

• Access management improvements to incorporate turn lanes onto side streets.

• Intersection analysis to evaluate roundabout alternatives and other intersection configurations.

• Improved pedestrian and bicycle accommodations, including shared-use paths, a connected sidewalk system, buffered bike lanes and mid-block crossings.

• Moderating travel speeds to improve safety through reduced lane widths, lane deflections, landscaping and contact-based roadway treatments.

Members of the engineering team told the group 18 intersections were under evaluation for roundabouts versus traffic lights. The purpose of utilizing roundabouts is twofold in reducing speed as well as making corridors more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly.

Once all necessary data is collected, plans will be designed and shared with the community through public meetings. Based on feedback from these meetings, alternative plans may be developed and evaluated.

The study is expected to be completed by fall 2024 with design, right-of-way (land) acquisition and construction as the next steps in the process. Construction is expected to take two to three years after land acquisition is complete.

The PD&E is funded at a cost of $4M with design ($10M), right-of-way ($40M) and construction ($146M) not yet funded. Please send questions to pwcustomerresolution@hcflgov.net or call 813-635-5400.

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Brian Bokor
Brian Bokor has lived in the Valrico area since 1997 and started writing freelance for The Osprey Observer in 2019. Brian (appraiser) and his wife, Sharon (broker), run a local real estate company (Bokors Corner Realty) as well as manage the Facebook page Bokors Corner, which highlights local-area commercial and residential development.