HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A local road safety advocate group is hoping people will vote "yes" on Hillsborough County's proposed transportation sales tax increase after seeing the dangers of intersections throughout the county.
On Monday, All for Transportation revealed its list of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Intersections in Hillsborough County, based on sheriff's office data:
- U.S. 301 at Gibsonton Drive: 367 crashes and 13 serious injuries/deaths
- U.S. 301 at Big Bend Road: 332 crashes and 14 serious injuries/deaths
- U.S. 301 at State Road 674: 207 crashes and 17 serious injuries/deaths
- N. Florida Avenue and E. Waters Avenue: 176 crashes and 9 serious injuries/deaths
- Lakewood Drive and E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard: 113 crashes and 10 serious injuries/deaths
- Fishhawk Boulevard and Boyette Road: 104 crashes and 10 serious injuries/deaths
- Big Bend Road at Summerfield Boulevard: 97 crashes and 14 serious injuries/deaths
- Big Bend Road and Summerfield Crossing Boulevard: 92 crashes and 11 serious injuries/deaths
- County Line Road and U.S. 41: 76 crashes and 10 serious injuries/deaths
- Bill Tucker Road and U.S. 301: 66 crashes and 9 serious injuries/deaths
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The two most dangerous intersections on the list have resulted in nearly $1.5 million in damage each over the past 16 months, the group said, based on sheriff's office data.
“Hillsborough County roads are among the most deadly in the nation, and it’s only getting worse,” County Commissioner Gwen Myers said. “With a $13 billion backlog of transportation improvement needs, a number that has been growing $1 billion per year since 2018, it is more important than ever to invest in our community.”
Myers said several plans are in place to improve road safety, the money just isn't there.
Local road safety advocate Emily Hinsdale said the dangers of several of the intersections force students to have to take buses or get driven to school even if they live within walking distance.
One of the group's goals, according to Hinsdale, is to create ways for students to walk to school safely which, in turn, will decrease traffic and save money being used to fund additional school bus routes.
"Traffic is not just an inconvenience, it's also a public safety issue," said Hillsborough County Firefighters Union President Tim Pearson, explaining that first responders are held back by traffic while they're working to save lives.
All for Transportation is a community-led group with a mission of funding solutions to "unsafe roads, endless traffic, and lack of transit options," its website reads.
And according to the group, those solutions involve passing a referendum on the November ballot to raise the sales tax in Hillsborough County from 7.5 to 8.5% to fund transportation solutions.
The proposed 1% sales tax increase would finance things like road expansions and more traffic lights, sidewalks and bike lanes.
The funds would be split up between the county and municipalities, public transportation and a metropolitan planning organization for maintenance and improvement projects.
Not everyone wants a higher tax. We’ve heard people speaking at commission meetings against paying more in taxes for the transportation initiative.
There have also been protests against the tax increase.
However, advocates for the sales tax increase, including Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, believe the initiative will improve road safety for residents and first responders.
In 2021 alone, there were more than 701,000 crashes across Florida, resulting in more than 3,700 deaths and 16,000 serious injuries.
Transportation experts say Florida’s growing population will add more drivers to the road and could result in more crashes and deaths if leaders don’t take more swift action with funding and road improvements.