Bell Shoals Road Widening Has One Neighborhood Quite Concerned
Residents of the Waterford on the Alafia subdivision told Hillsborough County Commissioners Wednesday, Feb. 6 that proposed changes to the road could cause even more traffic.
Residents who travel on Bell Shoals Road near Boyette Road know how far traffic can back up during rush hour and when local schools and churches let out. A plan to widen part of Bell Shoals is meant to ease that congestion, but that same plan has residents in one community worried.
Residents from the Waterford on the Alafia subdivision showed up in force at the Feb. 6 Hillsborough County Commission meeting. They were there to voice concerns about the impact the widening project will have on access to their subdivision.
The neighborhood is located on the west side of Bell Shoals, just north of Boyette Road.
Currently, residents can make a left turn out of the community to travel north. When the widening is complete, however, motorists will have to make a right turn and cross to the far left lane to make a U-turn at the traffic light at the intersection of Bell Shoals and Boyette roads.
“How are we going to navigate three lanes of traffic in less than 400 feet to make a U-turn,” asked Bella Patel, an attorney and resident of Waterford. “We need to engineer up. Let’s sit down and see if we can work this out.”
Residents have proposed allowing a left-hand turn out of the community, designed in a similar fashion to the left-hand turn out of the Goolsby Point Shopping Center, anchored by Publix, on Boyette Road. Disussion of the issue can also be found on the neighborhood's website.
“We have given you a petition signed by virtually every (resident of) Waterford,” said Jean Owens, president of the Waterford on the Alafia Homeowners Association.
Waterford residents will get the chance to air their concerns again with county officials. A motion asking staff to "meet again with residents to see if there's a further remedy" was introduced by Commissioner Al Higginbotham. It passed unanimously.
County staff members did not sound hopeful during the Feb. 6 meeting that they would be able to provide a solution that would give Waterford residents left-hand-turn access out of the subdivision.
County engineer Mike Williams told commissioners staff met with Waterford residents in January and explained that the entrance to their subdivision was too close to the Boyette Road intersection to safely allow a left-hand turn once the widening is complete.
"We can safely give you a left turn in, but not a left turn out," Williams said he told residents.
His recommendation to commissioners?
"As your county engineer, we (need to) leave this as it is designed and move on."
It is unclear when county staff will meet with Waterford residents.
What do you think of the widening project? Do you think it will help traffic or cause more headaches for drivers?