Parrish residents call for red light at Fort Hamer Road-U.S. 301 intersection

jajones1@bradenton.comJuly 11, 2014 

PARRISH -- It was supposed to make driving safer for motorists.

But Parrish residents complain that the recently completed intersection of Fort Hamer Road, U.S. 301, and 121st Avenue East is an accident waiting to happen.

They are clamoring for a traffic light that would make it safer and easier for drivers to enter the intersection, located just to the south of a sweeping curve on U.S. 301.

"You cannot determine the speed of oncoming cars. Drivers are going to pull out there and get T-boned," said Norma Kennedy, president of the Parrish Arts Council. "You are taking your life in your hands."

Kennedy has communicated her concern to county government.

Joel Whidden, who has lived in Parrish all his life, said the new intersection, without a traffic signal, is actually more dangerous than the one it replaced.

"You can't hardly get off Fort Hamer Road," Whidden said. "It's a bad design and they had a bad wreck there on Monday."

Whidden would also like to see a full traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 301 and County Road 675, just to the north.

The two intersections are a "two-headed snake," Whidden said.

Sage Kamiya, Manatee County deputy director of public works for traffic management, said county staff is already designing the Fort Hamer intersection for a traffic light. Those plans could be submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation by year's end.

"It is a state roadway and the state needs to permit it," Kamiya said.

Construction on the traffic signal could start in the spring, he said. There are no plans to request a full traffic signal at the U.S. 301-C.R.675 intersection.

Manatee County's long-range plans would eventually allow drivers to go north from Fort Hamer Road via 121st Avenue East to Moccasin Wallow Road, what some Parrish residents refer to as a bypass.

Although it's in the county plan, there is no project yet for that extension, Kamiya said.

Even so, 121st Avenue now aligns with Fort Hamer Road at the intersection with U.S. 301.

"It's an awkward layout for the road," Kennedy said, and she approaches it cautiously.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.

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