A plea by FishHawk Ranch residents for a traffic light at the intersection of FishHawk Boulevard and FishHawk Ridge Drive has attracted the attention of at least one county commissioner.
Commissioner Al Higginbotham has asked the Public Works Department to obtain another traffic study of the intersection to see if a traffic signal is warranted.
At Higginbotham's request, Mike Williams of the Public Works Department said he directed the community's developer, Newland Communities, to conduct a traffic count at the intersection this month. Williams said his department will evaluate the results and present a status report at a Hillsborough County Commission meeting at the end of March.
A January 2012 traffic count by the developer showed there wasn't enough traffic at the entrance of the Starling subdivision to justify a traffic light, said Williams.
But a lot has changed in a year.
"A lot of building has taken place in the subdivision during the past year so things may have changed," said Williams. "We were willing to try again and see if there are enough cars to meet warrant this time. I think it will be close."
FishHawk Community Development District II chairwoman Ruth Brown believes this latest traffic count will show that a signal is justified at the intersection.
"At rush hour, it's almost impossible for residents of Starling to make a left onto FishHawk Boulevard," she said. "It's a dangerous situation."
"In addition to working to get the signal installed as soon as possible, I'm working with the FH CDD III chairman to add street lights to increase visibility so pedestrians can cross the new intersection safely," said Brown.
Starling resident Rowena Mateo-Sjovall began the effort to get a light installed at the intersection in 2010 when she presented her request to Newland Communities Vice President Tom Panaseny.
"Traffic has doubled since I moved there 3 1/2 years ago," said Sjovall, noting that Starling now has 522 homes built and will have more than 700 homes when completed.
"And that doesn't count the 344 townhomes on the other side of FishHawk Boulevard," she said.
"At certain times of the day and even the weekends when things are happening at the FishHawk Sports Complex, it's very difficult to make a left turn onto FishHawk Boulevard," she said. "It's not a question of whether we need a light; it's a question of when they're going to install it. We do need a light there."
Concerned about the possibility of a serious crash, Starling resident Kimberly Cribbs launched a petition drive to convince the county commission to move forward with the installation of a traffic signal. So far, 149 residents have signed the petition.
"Without the traffic light, there is a high risk of someone getting severely or fatally injured when commuting out of the neighborhood," said Cribbs. "The neighborhood has tripled in the number of families in the last few years. It is considered to be a "high risk" area when purchasing automobile insurance. This issue needs to be handled in a preventative manner and not reactive."
Brown said Newland Communities project manager Victor Barbosa is prepared to install the light as soon as the county gives its OK.
The cost of the signal is $250,000, including a pedestrian crosswalk.