Belmont subdivision residents fed up with FDOT delayed project, terrified of US 301 intersection

Developer paid $300K for yet-to-come traffic light

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. -
An Apollo Beach area neighborhood is fed up. It is accusing the state of dragging its feet on a potentially dangerous intersection.
 
Through our "Good Question" series, a viewer asked us to find out what happened to more than $300,000 her community paid to help fix the roads.
 
It was confusion and chaos in every direction at the intersection of U.S. 301 and Paseo Al Mar Boulevard north of Sun City Center.
 
Mike Martin, a Belmont Community Development District board supervisor, was intent on showing ABC Action News why he believes the U.S. 301 intersection is the most dangerous in the Tampa Bay area.
 
“I mean it’s a nightmare,' Martin said. "It’s a horrible safety situation."
 
Martin and his neighbors want a traffic signal at U.S 301 and Paseo Al Mar Blvd.
 
The Florida Department of Transportation opened construction bids in June 2016. Still there is no traffic signal at the busy intersection.
 
“We need a light so bad," said Belmont resident Dorinda Wilson. "The community has been begging." 
 
Their frustrations were evident. When we visited Belmont, motorists flagged down the ABC Action News car. They were in addition to the Belmont residents who emailed, called and texted desperate to recount their numerous close calls.
 
“I get anxiety when I try to cross this road," Belmont resident Michelle Lowe said.
 
Traffic at peak times require some motorists on Paseo Al Mar Blvd. to wait more than 15 minutes to make a left turn onto US 301. Some frustrated motorists give up and go southbound, willing to skirt the law by then making an illegal U-turn to go northbound on US 301.
 
At time some cars stack up in the median between north- and southbound US 301 lanes, causing chaos as they wait to make a left turn. 
 
ABC Action News reached out to FDOT officials to find out why the delay in installing a traffic signal at the busy intersection.
 
FDOT officials said a contract dispute is the reason. They said a traffic signal could be installed in July.
 
The $300,000 the community’s developer paid for road improvements will be put to use, an FDOT official said.
 
In the meantime, the speed limit near the intersection has been lowered. FDOT also is working with a contractor on ways to accelerate the installation of the signal.
 
Belmont residents said they are tired of waiting and do not fully trust the timeline. FDOT plans to host a town hall meeting next week to allow residents to air out their frustrations.
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