Crashes prompt Hillsborough to activate signals

Riverview, Florida -- In the wake of two multi-vehicle accidents, Hillsborough County has turned on traffic lights at the intersection of Big Bend and Lincoln roads ahead of schedule.

The signals were installed weeks ago, but there have been two serious crashes in the past two days.

Now, they are flashing yellow and alerting drivers to the change. By midday Tuesday, the lights will be operating normally. Two accidents, just 15 hours apart, prompted the county to make the project a priority.

Alex Mack was involved in one of the crashes. Investigators say an 84-year-old driver in a Honda Civic tried to cross Big Bend Road without a working stoplight and rammed into Mack's Impala and an SUV. Mack is still feeling the impact of Thursday morning's crash.

"I am in severe pain. My legs are sore. My muscles are sore," says Mack. "I just think God that I'm OK, and everyone else he was in the accident too is OK."

The driver of the Civic is still hospitalized.

On Wednesday night, three other cars collided at the same intersection.

Mack says she was heading home from the hospital when she saw crews working to activate the traffic lights. She says it was too late to help protect her and the 11 other crash victims.

"I think they should've had those lights fixed after the first accident, instead of waiting until another one came to want to have them get fixed," says Mack.

Hillsborough says it has been working to install the new lights for months, but insists the installation takes time. A county spokeswoman says the signals were ready for power Aug. 18.

TECO claims it didn't hear from the county until Aug. 27, before the first crash. Crews had planned to have the lights working by Sept. 9.

After the second crash, TECO says the county called at noon requesting to fast-track the project. The lights came on four hours later.

"It's well overdue. We're just glad we're getting them up now. Hopefully, with those lights activated now, it will prevent someone from being killed," says sheriff's detective Larry McKinnon.

Even with the lights flashing on Friday, 10 News spotted cars darting around each other, and edging out into the road but deciding not to take the risk to turn into the fast moving traffic.

Some residents say the traffic light is a great start in tackling the increasing traffic on Big Bend, but believe more needs to be done to make the road safer for drivers.

"We put in down here which is going to add a lot more trucks," says Apollo Beach resident Richard McClannan. "It takes us 20 minutes for us to get on the I-75 ramp in the morning. It's backed up here for miles. We need to widen the ramp, and we need better access to get on 75. The town is growing."

These intersections in Riverview ranked among the top 15 dangerous when it comes to traffic accidents:

Three of them are along Bloomingdale Avenue at Bell Shoals Road, Lithia-Pinecrest Road and Providence Road.

The other two are Causeway Boulevard and Providence Road and Grand Regency Boulevard and Brandon Boulevard.

CHECK: Find most dangerous intersections by month


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