Crosswalk improvements to begin

Student body president Michael Griffin has a stronger faith in Hillsborough County’s government system.

In May, Griffin contacted County Commissioner Jim Norman to ask for repairs to dangerous roads and intersections around campus.

Of note to Griffin was the crosswalk on Fletcher Avenue at North Palm Drive, which he characterized as hazardous. The crosswalk is used by numerous students who live in Fontana Hall and nearby apartment complexes and is in a location where there are two traffic lights about 100 yards apart.

Less than two weeks after Griffin’s original contact with Norman, he received a letter from Bernardo Garcia, director for the county’s public works department, stating that a work order has been prepared to install “special emphasis crosswalks” at that location.

While the work order falls short of Griffin’s suggestion for an underground tunnel or overpass, he said he is pleased.

“I’ve never seen government work so quickly before,” Griffin said.

Griffin said he put in a call to county offices on Friday to determine what the term “special emphasis crosswalks” means. He said the result of construction will be a crosswalk similar to those on Clearwater Beach. Griffin said there will be signs above the street alerting motorists of the dangerous area. The signs, he said, will remain lighted throughout the night.

“Whatever they’re going to do is a heck of a lot better than what they’re doing right now, which really isn’t a whole lot,” Griffin said.

Griffin said while this kind of a response from local government is unusual, he was not surprised Norman acted quickly.

“I know Commissioner Norman really well. I asked him and told him it was urgent,” Griffin said. “Other politicians, they kind of say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s a priority’ and so forth. But here’s a gentleman that’s getting results.”

According to Garcia’s letter, the new and improved crosswalk should be installed in 45 days.

In addition to Griffin’s priority concern about the crosswalk, he also asked Norman to investigate the intersection of 50th Street and Fletcher Avenue.

A two-lane road that accepts two campus exits, 50th Street has become a thoroughfare for students coming onto and leaving campus. The intersection with Fletcher Avenue is pock marked with several filled-in potholes, a narrow right-turn lane, rough pavement and a badly eroded shoulder.

Garcia’s letter reports that the intersection is currently in the county’s Intersection Program, and construction will begin as funding becomes available.

Griffin said even though his initial concerns are being met, he is listening to an increasing number of suggestions from students.

“There have been five or six phone calls just recommending transportation issues,” Griffin said. “I’ll have a laundry list next time with these kind of results.”