The debate over the widening of Lithia-Pinecrest Road is back on the table.
At a Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting Nov. 29, Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Melissa Snively asked the board to consider pushing up the road's widening to four lanes, a proposal already on the MPO's long-range transportation plan.
Pointing out that Lithia-Pinecrest is a failed roadway, Snively told MPO members that she posed a question on Facebook asking residents what they thought of widening the road. She said 37 were in favor of the widening while two opposed it.
She told the MPO that it's time to take the widening off the back burner and push it up on the MPO's project list, specifically the section from Bloomingdale Avenue north to Lumsden Road.
However, as at past meetings, residents of rural Lithia were organized and on hand to oppose widening the road.
Gladys Will told MPO members that widening the road would disrupt longtime residents of Lithia-Pinecrest.
Pam Clouston, who has lived in the area since 1985, said she also opposed the road widening, noting residents have alternatives to Lithia-Pinecrest including FishHawk Boulevard and Boyette Road, which are currently being widened to four lanes.
Pam Flagherty told MPO members her family has lived at 2103 Lithia-Pinecrest Road for 32 years and wants to keep the road two lanes.
She noted that widening Lithia-Pinecrest from Bloomingdale to Lumsden would displace 17 businesses, eight homes and a church.
But longtime proponent of the widening, Bloomingdale resident George May said it's a matter of safety. Emergency vehicles are unable to traverse the heavy traffic along Lithia-Pinecrest, adding that there are 300 accidents along the road each year.
"Something needs to be done," he said.
MPO members agreed to devote a future meeting to the Lithia-Pinecrest widening before making any amendments to the long-range plan.