HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Portions of five major Hillsborough County roadways will receive funding for new projects after a 12-0 vote by members of the Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) board on Tuesday morning.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) requested the improvements, which will be added to the county's Transportation Improvement Plan after the TPO board's unanimous vote.
The request focuses on areas where there have been numerous serious and/or fatal crashes in the past five years.
One of the projects will create a longer merge lane for drivers entering I-4 westbound from McIntosh Road (Exit 14) and another for drivers exiting I-4 eastbound onto Branch Forbes Road (Exit 17).
FDOT also requested a similar project on I-75 — both northbound and southbound — between Fowler Avenue and the Tampa Bypass Canal.
According to Johnny Wong with the Hillsborough TPO, the projects should create much safer conditions for drivers entering or exiting the interstates.
“Those areas specifically have a long history of documented crash problems, so we’ve known for quite a while that there are a lot of issues with safety at those interchanges, and the improvements are to add merge lanes so they can reduce some conflict points,” Wong said. “Drivers will be able to get to the exit and on ramps without having to cut against a lane of traffic; and therefore, we should see a reduction of crashes over time.”
The board will also approved a list of other projects:
- Better lighting on SR 60 south of Plant City, from west of SR 39 to west of Clarence Gordon Jr. Blvd.
- Better lighting on US 301 in the West Brandon area, from west of Crescent Park Dr. to north of Elm Fair Blvd.
- Better lighting on US 301 in the Thonotosassa area, from north of Hampton Oaks Pkwy. to west of Jackson Rd.
- A railroad crossing project on SR 60 south of Plant City, east of Clarence Gordon Jr. Blvd.
- The installation of “pedestrian-activated hybrid beacons” at crosswalks on S. Dale Mabry Hwy. north of MacDill Air Force Base, at West Mango, West Wisconsin, and West Pearl Aves.
“Transportation is hugely underfunded in this county based on the need. We know that there are a ton of things that we could be doing to improve transportation for all the folks who live here — regarding safety, infrastructure, transit, walk, bike — and so any money that we can get to improve folks ability to move from one destination to another is more than welcome,” said Wong.
Wong said the projects won’t be constructed overnight but could be completed in several years.
According to the Hillsborough TPO and Signal4Analytics, a total of 30 serious and/or fatal crashes have occurred since 2017 on the portions of I-4, I-75, and S. Dale Mabry Hwy. identified for improvements.