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East County Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 3 weeks ago

Crashes at Post Boulevard prompt concern in Lakewood Ranch

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Lakewood Ranch residents say immediate action needed to prevent more fatalities.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

When Polo Run resident Tony Llamas drove through the intersection of State Road 70 and Post/Greenbrook boulevards Nov. 7, his heart dropped.

A black sedan was crushed, and a truck was overturned during a three-car accident. It was one among many he’s seen there.

“Something needs to be done,” Llamas said of improving safety at the intersection. “I have no other option but to take that road. We love our community as it grows and thrives, but why does it have to cost people’s lives to grow?”

There was a fatal accident there Oct. 2, less than one month earlier. Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Stanley Schaeffer said it was the third fatality there since Jan. 1, 2018, according to state crash data. (The others were Dec. 15, 2018, and Oct. 22, 2018.)

A vehicle was totaled during an accident Nov. 7 at State Road 70 and Post/Greenbrook boulevards.

Llamas said he hopes others will join him in rallying state and local officials for safety improvements at the intersection. He and his family — his wife, Jackie, and children, 16-year-old Meghan and 14-year-old Landon — travel through the intersection multiple times a day to get to work, school and practices at Premier Sports Campus.

Llamas wants a traffic signal installed there, but until then, he hopes the state will lower the speed limit from the future Bourneside Boulevard to Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.

About six months ago, Greenbrook’s Elena Taddeo began taking Greenbrook Boulevard to Lorraine Road rather than turn left on S.R. 70.

“I go through two school zones,” she said. “It takes a little longer, but I feel more peace of mind. It’s just gotten really bad [at that intersection].”

Del Webb at Lakewood Ranch resident Sandy Williams said she has seen dump trucks and semi-trucks pass her at 80 mph.

“I have buyers who won’t look in Greenbrook because they’re afraid to pull onto S.R. 70,” said Williams, a Realtor. “Nobody is driving the speed limit. It’s insane.”

Williams said she likes the proposal for roundabouts along S.R. 70 between Post/Greenbrook boulevards and County Road 675, which currently is being contemplated and designed by the Florida Department of Transportation. FDOT intends to widen S.R. 70 from Lorraine Road east to County Road 675 and place roundabouts at key intersections. At Post/Greenbrook boulevards, a traffic signal is being considered. Construction, however, is not slated to start until at least June 2023, per FDOT’s five-year work program.

FDOT spokesman Brian Ricks said FDOT has installed warning signs before the intersection to help notify motorists an intersection is ahead. The change was requested by Manatee County District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh.

“We needed to do something now,” Baugh said. “We have waited as long as we possibly can. This is a public safety issue.”

Baugh said she is hopeful FDOT can work with Manatee County to expedite the project.

Rick said FDOT’s Safety and Services Team also is looking into interim signage and pavement marking improvements before the construction project at that intersection.

Greenbrook resident Keith Davey, who heads up Greenbrook’s Safety Committee, said many residents of Greenbrook have told him they simply avoid the intersection and choose to travel Greenbrook Boulevard to Lorraine Road, rather than making a left-turn onto S.R. 70.

“Yes, people are concerned, but I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done in the interim,” Davey said. “It’s a much bigger project than just that intersection.”

Williams said S.R. 70 from County Road 675 to Lorraine is a “straight shot,” which encourages speeding, and the only interim solution is to have better enforcement of speed limits.

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