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Pinellas County residents say traffic fix created new problems to Belcher Drive

Posted at 5:10 PM, Feb 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 02:32:03-05

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Last year Pinellas County officials put plastic poles on Belcher Drive in front of Innisbrook, and they also added barriers in the median. The goal was to keep drivers from going straight across all four lanes of the crash prone intersection, but some residents say traffic issues are now worse.

“It’s just a matter of time before a serious accident happens here," said Bart Bennawit.

Bennawit lives in the Gleneagles neighborhood, just down the street, and says because drivers can’t get straight into to Innisbrook, they make dangerous u-turns here.

“Many times they will back up as far as two lanes and completely stop traffic." he said.

There are no traffic lights in this intersection, just emergency flashers used by the neighboring fire station.

People here say converting to a traffic light wouldn’t cost as much as building one from scratch.

“This is all preventable. If you’ve got the equipment already here, two-thirds. The county has to act on it and do the right thing," said Gleneagles resident Linda Marchionni.

Traffic will get even busier on Belcher next month when thousands of people head to Innisbrook for the Valspar Championship.

“And anyone who is not familiar with this is in for a rude awakening," said Bennawit.

Florida Highway Patrol says before the pole was put in front of Innisbrook, crashes spiked to almost 20 in a year.

County leaders tell us they are studying the area to see if more changes need to be made.