TAMPA/TEMPLE TERRACE Bicycle enthusiasts and pedestrians can soon breathe a sigh of relief. Safety improvement measures are in the works for several streets surrounding the University of South Florida and in Temple Terrace.
In a project mandated by the Metropolitan Planning Organization in 2012, the Hillsborough County Public Works Department plans to upgrade roadways designated as high pedestrian and bicycle crash sites in the county’s northeast corridor.
Among the improvements is the addition of sidewalks and a midway pedestrian crossing in the mile-long stretch of 56th Street from Fletcher to Fowler avenues; adding sidewalks, midblock pedestrian crosswalks and street lighting on 42nd Street along a .9-mile segment from Fletcher Avenue and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard; adding sidewalks, a bike lane and stormwater improvements on Bearss Avenue from Dale Mabry Highway to Lake Madgalene Boulevard; and adding sidewalks and a bike lane as well as installing bicycle-awareness signs along the 4.65-mile segment of Bearss Avenue from Florida Avenue to 22nd Street.
Plans, said public works engineer Michael Flick, could be tweaked based on comments and suggestions from attendees at an April 2 public meeting at the University Community Development Center. However, people attending appeared to welcome the improvements as presented.
Michael Szemeredy, who lives near Fowler Avenue and 15th Street and is a former USF Bullrunner bus driver, was among them.
“The USF system carries a lot of students and most rides on area streets are dangerous,” he said.
Szemeredy noted there are many near misses between pedestrians and vehicles from the three daily shuttles along 42nd Street by hurried students crossing the street along the almost 1-mile stretch without designated crosswalks to access one of the Bullrunner’s three daily shuttles. The same holds true, he said, for those disembarking and attempting to cross 42nd Street in front of the shuttle where it is difficult for passing drivers to see pedestrians.
“These improvements are definitely a good use of money as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
HART Project Manager Margarita Morales was on hand to view the plans in an effort to coordinate HART’s bus stop configurations with the changes.
“We have to make sure we accommodate our riders by placing them so that crosswalks are easily accessible,” she said.
Bicyclist and pedestrian safety improvements also are planned in other areas of the county. The estimated cost for the overall improvements stands at $8.5 million.
The project will get start by late spring, Flick said, and should be completed by year’s end.