A dangerous crossroads draws scrutiny in effort to make it safer

City, county and feds form taskforce

The intersection of Belcher Road and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard is a busy one.
Cyclists, walkers and other pedestrians try to make their way past the 40,000 or so  daily drivers who travel through the crossroads, which is reaching its bursting point.
"It's not just a state road problem," said David Skrelunas, the district safety programs manager with the Florida Department of Transportation. "You got different lights and intersections – so everybody's a player. We need everybody to work together."
Tuesday, less than two months after an awful accident claimed the life of a crossing guard at the intersection in May, a multi-agency task force came out in full force. It includes traffic stakeholders from the state, city, county and even a consultant from the federal level.  They took a good, hard look at this dangerous, deadly intersection that is good only if you're getting through.
The problem is that too many folks feel like they're not getting through fast enough, so they're pushing the yellow lights and running the reds. And that's causing a load of issues.  
"The intersection is running basically at capacity," said Rudy Umbs. "It is really at the limit."
Umbs chooses his words carefully. He has been a traffic troubleshooter for 40 years and, as a former federal fixer, he said he is heartened by word that this intersection is getting new volume-based software to better time the lights.
The good news includes a re-paving scheduled for next year that will create a smoother traffic flow.
While this intersection isn't the worst of the worst, he said, it is bad enough for drivers to have to be aware.
"Don't be texting, don't be looking around, don't be screwing around with the guys in the backseat,” he said. "Your job is to drive that vehicle and have it under control."
We are told by the consultants and the DOT that their draft report on what else could or should happen at the intersection will be done by next week. But the traffic light improvements and re-paving are already scheduled in what is a continual effort to maintain the roads for all of us.


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