Motorists will be forced to turn right out of Creekwood Crossings on 52nd Place East to use a traffic circle.
With construction of a roundabout scheduled for Creekwood Boulevard less than a year away, this is usually the time when the Public Works Department for Manatee County is listening to an avalanche of complaints.
Roundabouts often are not popular.
This project has been different. The anger is directed elsewhere.
Motorists have been complaining to Public Works about the jam created when they try to exit the Creekwood Crossing shopping center on 52nd Place East with the hope of getting back to State Road 70.
When Creekwood Boulevard gets busy, it makes that lefthand turn off 52nd Place East difficult at best, and the resulting wait backs traffic up severely into the center. To avoid that prospect, if they can even get to Creekwood Boulevard, motorists are turning right onto Creekwood Boulevard before finding a place to make a u-turn for the return to S.R. 70.
The resulting traffic conflict creates safety issues and prompted the need for a roundabout.
"People over time have been calling us, trying to get out of that shopping center," said Ogden Clark, the strategic affairs manager for Manatee County's Public Works. "Our feedback has been through data and it has been anecdotal."
Clark said safety issues, an expected increase in traffic and visibility issues were all reasons Manatee County is moving forward with construction expected to begin next January with completion scheduled for the following January.
"It gets hairy and scary out there," Clark said of the intersection at 52nd Place and Creekwood Boulevard. "We typically don't go into a parking lot, but this is a pretty small turn lane (on 52nd Place East approaching Creekwood Boulevard). We want to serve the businesses as well as the motorists. How do we improve this?"
Usually, Clark said complaints to Public Works come mostly from motorists and individuals, but businesses have voiced their displeasure with the situation.
He said the county monitored the 52nd Place East and Creekwood Boulevard intersection to see what percentage of drivers turned right on Creekwood and then made a u-turn. They also were monitoring foot traffic in the area.
County traffic engineers formulated the roundabout design. Bidding and land acquisition is scheduled to be completed by late in the summer.
Public feedback has been mostly supportive of the roundabout, Clark said.
Even so, the county has been reaching out to Creekwood residents to document concerns.
"Historically, people complain (about roundabouts)," Clark said. "That's why we put a sign out there early. We reached out to the Creekwood residents two years ago. We wanted to be forward thinking. We wanted to catch complaints early on. This is an established area and we are proposing a significant change to the way people operate. This is a major change and we want to make ourselves accessible."
Clark said county staff members have been going to neighborhood meetings to present plans.
"That intersection is so dangerous," Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said. "It's terrible. The roundabout is going to be a good idea that's going to make it safer."
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