Parrish residents want traffic signal at dangerous intersection. Here’s why the state said no

Parrish residents want a fully operational traffic signal at the most dangerous intersection in town. But the Florida Department of Transportation has other ideas.

Parrish residents stepped up their demand for a fully operational traffic signal at County Road 675 and U.S. 301 in June after Ashley Rhodes, 22, was killed in a traffic accident there.

Members of Parrish United Methodist Church say they often hear or see near accidents at the intersection, and they gathered at the scene the night of her crash to pray for Rhodes.

Michael D. Williamson, division chief for the Parrish Fire District, has previously said the intersection is the district’s No. 1 hot spot for traffic accidents.

Even so, and after months of study, FDOT officials say they don’t believe a fully operational traffic signal is the answer.

Pastor Chris Schmidt of Parrish United Methodist Church says that intersection of U.S. 301 and County Road 675 is so dangerous that he tells his teen sons to avoid it altogether. Schmidt said he believes a fully functioning traffic signal there would save lives. Bradenton Herald file photo

“We’re not installing a traffic signal at the U.S. 301/CR 675 intersection at this time. We have addressed some sight distance issues caused by vegetation, and we will continue to look for other traffic safety improvement projects in conjunction with Manatee County,” Brian R. Rick, an FDOT public information specialist told the Bradenton Herald in an email.

Manatee County Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace disagrees.

“I think there should be a signal. It warrants a signal,” Trace said.

A car involved in a June traffic crash came to rest on the edge of the Parrish United Methodist campus. Church members say they often hear vehicles stopping suddenly to avoid accidents at the intersection of U.S. 301 and County Road 675. Bradenton Herald file photo

The Parrish Civic Association will meet at 6 p.m. on Jan. 24 at 12180 U.S. Hwy. 301 N. and there will be discussion on the traffic signal, Trace said.

“I will be there and some people from county government will be there,” she said.

It is unknown whether FDOT will have a representative present to discuss its plans.

Gretchen Fowler, president of the Parrish Civic Association, said she hasn’t heard much from FDOT.

“The only update I’ve gotten is when I called them. They aren’t reaching out to us at all,” Fowler said.

Fowler said that what she has heard about FDOT’s plans won’t solve the problem and could adversely affect the Methodist church.

Sia Mollanazar, the county’s deputy director of engineering services, has encouraged FDOT to present its findings to the public.

“We have said to them they need to present their improvements to the civic association and the community at large,” Mollanazar said.

Several years ago, Parrish United Methodist Church and the Parrish Civic Association petitioned FDOT for a fully operational traffic signal at the intersection. They renewed their request after June’s fatal accident.

The signal at the intersection now flashes yellow for through traffic on U.S. 301 and red for traffic approaching the intersection on C.R. 675.

“Our engineers will not only be looking at the crash history, including the unfortunate recent fatal crash, but also the existing conditions and the future planned development. As you are likely aware, there is planned development in this area in the near future, including a new school. This new construction is likely to alter the current travel patterns and demand,” Zachary Burch, government affairs and communications manager for FDOT, previously said in an email.