TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. — There’s a lot more traffic in Temple Terrace now than there was in 1989 when Tony Billington moved there from Chicago.
“Oh, yes,” he said Tuesday, as filled up his car at a gas station just north of the Hillsborough River. “The population has increased, so that makes a difference.”
Billngton and others say that increased traffic, combined with an increase in pedestrians in the area as well, is likely why the road that runs through the center of town — N 56th Street — is currently on the state’s radar.
In fact, the Florida Department of Transportation is studying 56th St. from Fletcher Avenue, south through Temple Terrace, across the Hillsborough River, all the way to where it becomes 50th Street near East Tampa to make sure the corridor “allows for safe travel of all users.”
“It goes from four lanes in some areas to six lanes. You have various speeds out there. You do have a lot of bus stops out there,” said Kris Carson, with FDOT.
Carson said there have been a number of serious — even fatal — crashes on the stretch of road over the years. According to the department’s website, the portion of 56th St from Sligh Ave to Busch Blvd. “was identified by the Hillsborough TPO as a Vision Zero corridor, meaning it was identified as a corridor with a high number of severe crashes leading to fatalities and incapacitating injuries.”
“The 2012-2016 crash analysis identified that the corridor experienced 15 severe crashes per mile,” the website explains.
Improvements could be coming, however, as the state studies how to make the 56th St./50th St. corridor safer.
“Could it be additional sidewalks, wider sidewalks, even protected bike lanes? We may need to install some LED lighting out there,” explained Carson. “We’re looking at everything from lighting improvements, pedestrian improvements. We look at the speeds out there. We look at the crash data.”
Before an improvement plan is drawn up, though, Carson and FDOT want to hear from people like Billington who use the road daily.
Wednesday, there are two chances to make your voice heard today. There’s a virtual public meeting from 12-2 p.m. There’s also an in-person hearing from 5:30- 7:30 p.m. at the Miller Park & Life Center at 6105 E Sligh Avenue.
Details about both remaining meetings and more resources can be found on FDOT’s website.