Busy USF intersections to get a little relief

If you dread using North Palm Avenue to leave campus, your nightmare may soon be over.

After years of observation, design and planning, Hillsborough County has announced it will improve and expand the often-clogged intersections of North Palm Avenue, Fletcher Avenue and 42nd Street.

According to Hillsborough County Project Manager Tom McLaughlin, construction should start by next week and end, weather permitting, in August.

“They’ll move their equipment out there (today), but I don’t think they’ll start for another week or so,” McLaughlin said.

Construction teams will first build a new right turn lane from Fletcher to 42nd and another right turn lane from Fletcher to North Palm. The county also plans to build a new right turn lane from North Palm to Fletcher.

Perhaps most significant is the county’s plan to add an additional left turn lane onto Fletcher from North Palm, a move that should considerably ease traffic during rush hour when many staff and faculty head home for the day.

“This construction is very needed,” McLaughlin said. “It’s undoubtedly been under observation for some time, probably three to five years. We have various agencies in the county that look at these intersections and keep tabs on the busy ones. Certainly this has been on one of the lists for a while.”The project will cost about $1.5 million, McLaughlin said. USF is not involved with the construction.

During construction, the county plans to shift lanes to keep traffic flowing. However, there are no plans to decrease the number of lanes during this period.

After the new turn lanes are constructed, new signals will be activated. Also planned is a reconstruction of the Fletcher median and a resurfacing and repainting of the road marks on North Palm and Fletcher.During construction, the county will also adjust pedestrian walking lanes so they are safe and secure.

“These are things the county has been planning for some time,” said USF Facilities Planning and Construction Director Ron Hanke. “Obviously, we welcome it. It’ll be a good improvement.”