HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County is taking on a new approach to tackle traffic issues.
"We understand that roads are not just for cars. There are different types of roads and they facilitate community impact and redevelopment," said Hillsborough County Community and Infrastructure Planning Director John Patrick.
Right now, leaders are looking to make several improvements on 131st Avenue near Nebraska Avenue and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.
It's a heavily traveled roadway, and congestion is a big problem there.
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"Zero fatality is what we want to strive for. So we know that there is a lot of accidents in this corridor and we want to make sure that those are addressed," said Patrick.
Typically when traffic counts go up, the default solution is to add more lanes, but county officials have realized that doesn't always solve the problem or benefit the community in the best way.
Now project leaders are looking at the big picture of the area and its redevelopment potential.
"What we are trying to do here is see what is the impact to the community and make it as an asset to the community and facilitate redevelopment in this community, especially in this area," said Patrick.
The county's study found a need to encourage commercial development in the neighborhood, build sidewalks, add a high visibility crosswalk and a road median along 131st Avenue.
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"One of the things we want to do is to accommodate all these modes of transportation," said Patrick.
The study also found a need for a park in the community with the closest one more than half a mile away.
The study is an example of how county officials want to take on traffic issues in other areas, looking at what a neighborhood needs and how to improve congestion and safety for both vehicles and pedestrians.
"Safety is paramount to what we are doing. We need to understand that a capital improvement like this is a major investment. It can break or make a community. We want to make a community," said Patrick.
Officials are in the design phase of making those transportation improvements near 131st Avenue. The next step is acquisition and possibly construction.
This project will cost the county around $16.8 million and should be completed sometime in 2024.
They plan to keep using this approach in other parts of the county.