Tarpon businesses hope traffic signal remains in operation
By Eric Horchy | Suncoast NewsTARPON SPRINGS - The Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse chain may have decided to forgo building a store on U.S. 19 here, but Tarpon Springs business and city leaders hope the site's recently installed traffic signal doesn't disappear as a result.
Published: June 28, 2012
Published: June 28, 2012
A 30-day trial for the stoplight conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation is nearly complete. The data collected during will play a large role in deciding the signal's future at the intersection of U.S. 19 and Spruce Street.
The flow density of traffic using left turn signals from U.S. 19 onto Spruce Street and Spruce Street onto U.S. 19 will determine if the intersection still warrants the light's necessity without Lowe's' presence.
During the trial, FDOT traffic operations officials were scheduled to be on site counting cars, but public information officer Kris Carson said those plans were scrapped due to inclement weather. Because the upcoming holiday week can skew data, Carson said the counts will likely be rescheduled for the week of July 9.
Many city officials and business owners, however, believe the intersection has need traffic signals for quite some time.
Without a signal, traffic exiting Spruce Street and heading north onto U.S. 19 must either wait for an opening on both sides of the heavily traveled highway or turn south and then make a U-turn at Tarpon Avenue.
"This is not a new issue for us," said Mark Reichert, president of A-B-C Packaging Machine Corporation. The company's production plant is on Live Oak Street.
The recently constructed segment of Spruce Street to U.S. 19 connects to Live Oak Street. The Spruce-U.S. 19 intersection is to the south of the Live Oak-U.S. 19 intersection.
Reichert said his father, Don Reichert, during his many years as president of A-B-C Packaging, tried to convince FDOT to install a traffic signal on U.S. 19 to improve safety for vehicles traveling to and from the plant.
Mark Reichert said he understands that FDOT rejected requests for a traffic signal at U.S. 19 and Live Oak Street because the highway has a high crest not far to the north. "But what's been the case for years is that trucks and employees heading north have to come out and turn south on 19, fight their way quickly across 19 and then try to make a U-turn," he said.
A-B-C often takes in 18-wheel trucks delivering steel and ships out the machinery made from the steel, Reichert said. In addition, the A-B-C employees who live in Pasco and Hernando counties have similar problems getting onto U.S. 19, he said.
The light's continued operation has the "100 percent" support of the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce, said its president, Sue Thomas.
Having the U.S. 19-Spruce traffic signal in place also will aid efforts to attract a buyer for the property Lowe's is trying to sell after the chain decided last month not to build a store of the site, Thomas said.
"Eventually, another business is going to go in there and then they would have to turn it back on anyway," Reichert said of the U.S. 19-Spruce traffic signal.
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