Parrish traffic fatality renews calls for action
After years of imploring the Florida Department of Transportation to install a fully functioning traffic signal at the deadly U.S. 301-County Road 675 intersection, the residents of the Village of Parrish are finally going to see their wish come true.
The Florida Department of Transportation, in coordination with Manatee County, announced that it is planning to install a full four-way traffic signal at the intersection. C.R. 675 is also known as Rutland Road.
“We are glad to partner with Manatee County to develop a plan that will meet the needs of the community with appropriate traffic control at the intersection and the necessary roadway improvements,” FDOT District 1 Secretary L.K. Nandam said in a press release.
Gretchen Fowler, president of the Parrish Civic Association, celebrated FDOT’s change of course on the traffic signal in a Facebook post on the Parrish Parents Network page.
“Thank you for all your support and efforts with lobbying for a light at the intersection of 675 and 301. Our determination has paid off. Commissioner (Priscilla) Trace officially announced today that FDOT will be installing a full signal traffic light at the Intersection of C.R. 675 and Hwy. 301,” Fowler wrote.
“As you know there is strength in numbers and we have you as members of the Parrish Civic Association to thank for the accomplishments we have made over the past couple of years,” Fowler said.
FDOT acknowledged citizen involvement in passionately demanding a fully functioning, four-way signal to replace the signal that now flashes yellow for traffic traveling on U.S. 301 and red for traffic seeking to enter the highway from C.R. 675 and 69th Street East.
In recent years, several motorists have lost their lives at the intersection, considered the most dangerous in the 97-square-mile Parrish Fire District.
In order to facilitate the operation of a traditional traffic signal, Manatee County will upgrade 69th Street from a narrow local road to a wider road that can accommodate the two-way traffic entering and exiting the U.S. 301/C.R. 675 intersection, the FDOT press release said.
In addition to widening 69th Street, the county plans to upgrade additional roads in the vicinity of the U.S. 301/C.R. 675 intersection.
As recently as January, an FDOT traffic engineer told Parrish residents at a neighborhood meeting that traffic counts at the intersection did not support a fully functioning traffic signal there, and that safety improvements would not begin before the fall of 2020.
But that was before a man on a motorcycle was killed at the intersection in April. The other driver involved in the accident has been charged with driving under the influence.
FDOT is working toward finalizing a start date for the installation of the new signal. Once construction begins, motorists may encounter occasional closures, detours and delays. Motorists are urged to obey posted speed limits, pay attention to directional signs and allow for extra travel time, FDOT said.