Deadly intersection gets approved for a new traffic light

Published: May. 21, 2019 at 8:28 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A deadly intersection in Manatee County will finally be getting the traffic light the community has been asking for.

People who live in Parrish say they avoid U.S. 301 and County Road 675 at all costs.

There are stop signs on either side of County Road 675, but drivers going east and west on 301 have no reason to stop, so people making any left turn are doing so straight into oncoming traffic.

“I equate it to Frogger," said Gretchen Fowler, president of the Parrish Civic Association. "You know, you’re hopping across trying to hope you can make it to the other side. And that’s pretty much what it’s like every day.”

In the small town of Parrish, they say it was hard for the close knit community to get the Florida Department of Transportation to listen.

“They said that there weren’t enough numbers of cars driving this intersection to justify a four way light," said Fowler, who was a big advocate for convincing FDOT to install the light at the intersection. "So you go by the numbers you collect and the things you collect on paper, but until you’re physically out here, you don’t understand.”

Then, two more people died in crashes at the U.S 301, County Road 675 intersection over the last year, and the Fire Chief said they’ve been called to several more serious crashes in the last year and a half.

“I know that we’ve had four really, really bad ones and more than 10 of actual, just calls at this location," said Fire Chief Stacey Bailey. "We know that when we respond, or that a call comes in at this location, that it’s an all-hands call, because they’re usually bad and significant.”

The pastor of the church just steps away from this intersection said it’s not only dangerous, it’s highly frequented.

“We’ve gotten used to hearing breaks locking up, horns and then the occasional metal on metal sound of an accident," said Pastor Christopher Schmidt.

On any given Sunday during peak season, there are 800 people who come to his church alone, not to mention the trucks that use this route daily as a main artery to Central Florida.

“We get a lot of trucks," said Fowler

All reasons why the group is so grateful that FDOT has finally agreed to work with Manatee County to install a four way traffic signal in an effort to improve safe driving.

“This is very good. We’re very, very thankful and looking forward to it being done,” said Pastor Schmidt.

As part of the agreement with FDOT, Manatee County will be widening County Road 675 where it turns into 69th Street East to accommodate two lane traffic for the four way traffic signal.

FDOT said the details as to how much this construction will cost or when it will begin are still being worked out. They expect to have that answer in the new few weeks.

ABC7 asked why they decided to put a traffic signal instead of a roundabout at this intersection. FDOT engineers said, “When we evaluate an intersection for the potential of installing a traffic signal or a roundabout, we take many things into consideration, including right-of-way needs. We always strive to implement the safest and most beneficial traffic control at every intersection we evaluate.”

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