State study shows Greenbrook Village traffic lights not needed

kmoschella@bradenton.comJune 24, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Supervisors who represent Greenbrook Village residents say they are concerned about traffic along State Road 70 as development of that portion of Lakewood Ranch continues.

Community Development District 4 leaders say they want traffic lights installed at key intersections east and west of the community.

One such intersection is Greenbrook Boulevard, a road under the purview of Manatee County, where drivers must pull up to a median in the middle of S.R. 70 to turn left.

"This is an accident waiting to happen and something should be done. How do we get the state to understand it's a heavy traffic area?" CDD4 Supervisor Joseph Sidiski asked at a recent Greenbrook Village district planning session.

State studies, however, indicate the intersections don't warrant traffic signals yet.

Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc., Lakewood Ranch master developers, has large-scale plans for an area north of Greenbrook Village. SMR's Lakewood Centre project stretches from Lakewood Ranch Boulevard in the east to Pope Road in the west, Malachite Drive to the north and State Road 70 to the south.

Lakewood Centre includes thousands of new homes and suburban apartments, more than 1 million square feet of commercial and office space, and a 300-room hotel with buildout slated for 2026.

In addition, Del Webb, a 1,300-residence subdivision planned east of Lorraine Road and S.R. 70, is expected to create more traffic in an area already home to the 140-acre Premier Sports Campus, which is fast becoming a major sports and recreation venue for Manatee County.

"SMR has made a tremendous investment into the infrastructure needed to support all the new residents and added traffic in the area," said Todd Pokrywa, SMR vice president strategic affairs, when interviewed by the Herald last October.

SMR paid for a new traffic signal at Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Malachite Drive, which it is extending east to link with Pope Road and the new Esplanade Golf & Country Club.

To the south in Greenbrook Village, there have been a number of serious accidents at intersections without lights along S.R. 70, Sidiski pointed out at the planning meeting earlier this month.

CDD 4 board members say they are also concerned about Greenbrook Boulevard and White Eagle Boulevard, formerly called Pope Road, and Post Boulevard east of Lorraine Road near a branch of the U.S. Post Office.

They said they are unsure of protocol and who to appeal to -- Manatee County officials because the boulevards are county roads or the state because S.R. 70 is a state road.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation, studies have been conducted for the three intersections, and White Eagle Boulevard and Post Boulevard do not warrant a signal.

The completed state traffic study for Greenbrook Boulevard is under review, according to FDOT communications specialist Robin Stublen.

"The initial indication is it doesn't meet standards but we are reviewing it. A traffic light is a complicated process that has a lot of elements to it and it takes time. People think it should be done next week. Generally, we are contacted by the developers and the county when our services are required. I believe that is when obligations are discussed," Stublen said.

"All sorts of things must be taken into consideration," Stublen added. "Traffic queuing up along the side of the road, the amount of traffic in the area. People think if you put a signal light up, it makes things safer, but that's not necessarily the case."

Installing a traffic light at Greenbrook Boulevard is not part of the development order approved for SMR's Development of Regional Impact, according to Manatee County. But CDD 4 supervisors can submit any questions they have in writing to the county.

Some CDD 4 supervisors suggested placing a sign at the top of Greenbrook Boulevard and along the median on S.R. 70 calling for only one car to pull out at a time when turning left.

"It will stop some people. Some will respect it. But is it a panacea? No," said CDD 4 Chairman Michael Griffin.

Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.

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