Six-foot bike lanes and signal modifications will be added to ensure safer travel.
Those who rely on bicycles to get around will be able to traverse portions of U.S. 41 more safely, thanks to a Florida Department of Transportation project.
FDOT is planning to build buffered bicycle lanes and sidewalks on U.S. 41 between South Beneva Road and Stickney Point Road, a heavily traveled strip of retail, restaurants and auto dealerships. Both the bicycle lanes and the sidewalks will be 6 feet wide.
U.S. 41 will be resurfaced from 12-foot travel lanes to 11-foot travel lanes to allow shoulders on either side of the corridor that will include buffered bike lanes. A buffered bike lane includes a marked buffer line between the bike lane and the vehicle lanes.
Sidewalks will be constructed on both sides of the corridor to improve safety for pedestrians. All pedestrian sidewalk ramps will be built to meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, and driveways along the corridor will be modified to accommodate the design.
Additionally, bus shelter pads and boarding pads will be built along the roadway, and modifications will be made to the signalized intersections.
Brianna Smith, an FDOT public involvement consultant, said the signal modifications include replacement of the signal at Stickney Point Road, adjustments to a signal at Gulf Gate Drive and adding crosswalks to other intersections.
Work on the project will be divided into two segments. The first area to see improvements will be between Beneva Road and Caribbean Drive, followed by a segment from Caribbean Drive to Stickney Point Road.
The first segment will cost $5.56 million, and construction will begin at the end of this year or in early 2021. The second segment will cost $4.56 million, and construction will begin in summer 2022.
Work on these two segments comes as part of a four-segment project. FDOT in 2019 finished the first segment, which stretches from Blackburn Point Road to McIntosh Road at a cost of $7.1 million. The second, under construction, stretches from McIntosh Road to Beneva Road.
Many median modifications will be needed to block left turns across several lanes of quick-moving traffic, which will help accommodate safer travel for motorists, Smith said.
“A right turn, then a U-turn reduces crash rates by 18% and reduces the injury fatality rate by 27%,” Smith said.
There were a total of 484 crashes along the segment in question from 2014-2018. Of those, 78, or 16.1%, were the result of a left turn. Those crashes resulted in 35 injuries.
Notable changes include:
- The full median opening in front of Hobby Lobby will be changed to a directional southbound;
- The median at Springfield Drive and Lakepoint Boulevard will be converted to a dual directional median;
- The median at Pinehurst Street will be closed;
- The median at the Toyota dealership will be closed;
- The median at Upper Cove Terrace will be closed; and
- The median at the Mazda dealership will be converted to a dual directional median opening.
Smith said the project will reduce conflict points and improve visibility for turning vehicles without impacting businesses.
“Studies have shown that people will still drive to their final destination regardless of the modifications to the median,” Smith said. “People will be able to make a safer U-turn at the next available median opening to reach their destination.”
Medians aren’t the only thing to change.
The free-flow right turn lanes at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road will be removed, and the curb will be reconstructed at every corner to allow shorter crosswalks. All right-turn lanes will be controlled by a signal.
FDOT will not include a landscaping component to the project. The county would have to fund landscaping in the medians if it chooses upon project completion.
Additionally, FDOT will add lighting along the west side of the corridor to light up the roadway for travelers. The east side is already lit.
Consultant Project Manager Richard Endrzejewski said the goal is to light the roads for drivers, not have it shine in homes or businesses.
Endrzejewski said the work will primarily be done at nighttime to avoid congestion along the corridor.
Lane closures might be necessary to facilitate construction on the project, though Smith said residents will receive advanced notice of any closures, and access to all businesses along the corridor will still be granted.