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Concerns over congestion on Lithia Pinecrest Road lead county officials to make changes

Hillsborough County officials said they are doing different studies and holding community input meetings to see what would be best suited to clear congestion.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County officials opened the room at the Bloomingdale Regional Library Tuesday night to hear from the community about a road improvement project along Lithia Pinecrest Road.

One county commissioner, Michael Owen, said it is among the top four most congested roads in the county.

Those living in the Valrico area said traffic is outrageous along Lithia Pinecrest Road.

"Entrances to neighborhoods, they’re blocked by cars," Naomi Dyer, who lives in Valrico, said. "Entrances to businesses, they’re blocked by cars. You can’t turn left."

Dyer said Lithia Pinecrest Road is a nightmare to drive on.

"It’s a parking lot,"she said. "It’s overwhelming honestly and I stay home as much as possible."

Dyer used to drive Lithia Pinecrest Road to work, but the traffic became so bad she quit and applied for a remote job.

"It’s kind of sad because I basically put myself on house arrest," Dyer added.

Hillsborough County officials are trying to speed things up and clear congestion for drivers like Dyer. 

County Commissioner Michael Owen explained about 30,000 people travel parts of Lithia Pinecrest Road each day. He grew up in this area and understands the traffic concerns.

"It’s a nightmare to drive up and down it," he said.

It’s not uncommon to see cars lined up Lithia Pinecrest Road and brakes lights on.

"What needs to be done is a lot, but the problem is road widening is so expensive," Owen said.

It’s something they will consider, but to add lanes, Owen explained, it would be over $200 million of your tax dollars. That’s why Commissioner Owen was at the Bloomingdale Regional Library Tuesday night. They’re discussing other options like turn lanes and intersection improvements.

Dyer was able to talk to officials at the open meeting. "They’re talking about doing possible roundabouts and I think that would be faster," Dyer added

At Tuesday's meeting there were surveys for people to give their input on whether they want to see things like bike paths and sidewalks. There will be more meetings to hear what solutions the community suggests.

"I believe the people closest to the problem are best to provide the solution," Kim Byer, who is the Assistant County Administrator over Public Works, said.

People want to leave their house without spending hours on Lithia Pinecrest Road.

"I feel like I don’t spend money at local businesses and I hardly go out to eat because it’s miserable to do anything or go anywhere anymore," Dyer added.

Commissioner Owen said the congestion is due to the growing area.

"We over built and our roads are behind so that’s the big issue we are facing," Owen explained. 

To get up to speed, they want you to help steer them in the right direction. To do that, they will be having more community meetings. If you can’t make those, you can share your suggestion online.

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