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GreyHawk Landing residents petition officials for traffic light at 'extremely dangerous' East Manatee intersection

The intersection of State Road 64 and Greyhawk Boulevard, where a 73-year-old Bradenton man died in February while trying to cross the road. Locals are voicing their concerns over the safety of the area, saying there should be a light at the intersection. 
 AMARIS CASTILLO/Bradenton Herald
The intersection of State Road 64 and Greyhawk Boulevard, where a 73-year-old Bradenton man died in February while trying to cross the road. Locals are voicing their concerns over the safety of the area, saying there should be a light at the intersection. AMARIS CASTILLO/Bradenton Herald

EAST MANATEE -- Nearly 900 GreyHawk Landing residents have signed a petition to have a traffic light installed at an intersection they say is extremely dangerous.

The petition asks to have a traffic light installed at the intersection of State Road 64, GreyHawk Landing Boulevard and Pope Road in Bradenton. "The intersection is extremely dangerous with many near-misses as drivers enter or exit the neighborhoods, as well as a recent fatality," the petition reads.

The letter comes less than a month after 73-year-old John Hughes Frye, of Bradenton, was killed while trying to walk across State Road 64. GreyHawk Landing residents, like Lorna Smith, told the Bradenton Herald this month the accident was inevitable. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, fog was a contributing factor.

Smith, who has lived in the community five years, was one of about 30 residents who collected 854 signatures. The 64-year-old mailed the letter Friday to FDOT spokesman Robin Stublen, state Rep. Greg Steube, Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle, and L.K. Nandam, FDOT district traffic operations engineer for District 1, which includes Manatee County and 11 other counties.

"We just thought that the FDOT really needs to know that the residents were serious about this," Smith said Monday, adding that she has already spoken to Stublen about the issue. "I thought that if FDOT knew how strongly the community felt about this, this would help our case for a traffic light. It's just important for our community because it's getting more and more dangerous. During the day, it's not so bad, but at rush hour -- when people are in a hurry

-- it's really bad."

A signal analysis study is currently being underway on the intersection of Greyhawk Boulevard and State Road 64, and the draft is expected to be completed in March.

Variables to consider

Stublen said Monday he hadn't received the petition yet, but noted there are many variables considered in deciding whether to install a light at a certain intersection.

"We look at the traffic and we're doing this during the peak season also, so that's going to give us a good indication at how busy these intersections are," Stublen said. "Also, how long it takes for individuals to be able to make these turns, the movements in this particular intersection ... the number of crashes at a particular intersection and the reasons for those crashes."

For example, Stublen said, the FDOT cannot factor in a DUI crash as a substantial reason for installing a traffic signal.

"I think it's important to note that, first of all, signals are installed for traffic flow purposes; to make sure traffic is moved in a safe and effective manner," he said. "As far as the residents, it probably plays some role, but it's not a deciding factor... A lot of times, signals would cause more crashes than it prevents."

Stublen said there are plans for a roundabout on State Road 64 and Rye Road.

In the letter, residents write that "this hazardous situation needs to end."

"GreyHawk Landing is a growing community of over 1,000 homes, and the addition of Serenity Creek on Pope Road as well as new communities east of GreyHawk Landing, will only add to the volume of traffic and the danger," the letter continues. "Although the posted speed sign is 60, drivers, especially the trucks carrying oranges and freight going west on SR64, routinely drive 65 mph or faster. This means that residents of GreyHawk Landing are, in effect, turning onto a freeway. Because of a curve in SR 64, east of the intersection, judging the speed of oncoming traffic is virtually impossible."

Messages were left Monday for Steube and Nandam.

"This is such a disappointing thing for us in the commission because we hear the word from the people where the rubber meets the road," Bustle said. "They certainly are concerned about traffic conditions and I also represent Parrish, and just this past week we were talking to the folks out there about their concerns. They're really after me to do something about it. I keep coming back to them about the manual on uniform traffic studies. ... It's a pretty complicated thing and unfortunately many times they run against my desire and the people's desire."

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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