BRANDON, Fla. — At 85 years old, Charlotte Gefke’s been around long enough to see her corner of Brandon transform dramatically.
“I’ve been here 24 years. The traffic has tripled. Like I say, I think half the State of New York has moved down here,” she said with a smirk. “Tampa’s gotten popular and Brandon — and the whole state!”
Gefke said that trend has meant more traffic at the intersection near her home, where Lumsden Road meets Heather Lakes Boulevard and Kensington Ridge Boulevard.
“I’ve seen near misses frequently because you’ve got it coming from every direction. It’s treacherous,” she said. “I’m old enough my daughter tells me, ‘Don’t take left turns or go straight, mom! Take right turns only to be safe.’ So that’s kind of a handicap in some cases.”
The intersection has no traffic light. Michelle Baker, another neighbor, said the lack of a signal means drivers leaving the adjacent neighborhoods like hers often have to dart from Heather Lakes Blvd. and Kensington Ridge Blvd. to quickly make left turns or merge onto Lumsden Rd., the larger, faster roadway.
“I’ve actually seen accidents there myself,” said Baker. “Not only are there cars and everything involved, you also have pedestrians, you know, trying to cross this intersection, and it’s a bus stop there. So, it’s a lot of moving parts.”
Baker emailed ABC Action News’ Driving Tampa Bay Forward tip line to express her concerns about the intersection. Baker also wanted to know why Hillsborough County hasn't installed a light. She believes a traffic signal would help reduce much of the risk and dangerous behavior.
“There has been talk for quite some time that they were going to put a light there,” Baker said. “It just never happened.”
According to online records, Hillsborough County has identified the intersection as one that needs improvement. The county has been designing a project to convert the intersection from a two-way stop into one that will include a traffic light. The county is also considering an extension of the eastbound left-turn lane at Kensington Ridge Blvd. and an extension of the westbound left turn lane at Paddock Club Dr.
One document shows that a previous construction timeline was slated for mid-2020 to mid-2021 with a $2.6 million estimated project cost.
Now, the county expects that construction will happen between mid-2022 and mid-2023 with a $3.4 million estimated project cost.
According to a county spokesperson, the final design for the project is complete, project staff is now processing the bid package for advertisement, and construction is expected to begin in September.