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Concerned citizens push for traffic signal at Skyline, Pine Island Road

By Staff | Feb 15, 2011

Spencer Crutchley wants a traffic signal put in at the intersection of Skyline Boulevard and Pine Island Road, a move he said would save lives and prevent accidents from occurring regularly.
Crutchley’s brother-in-law, Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Wheeler, was killed at the intersection in January after colliding with a vehicle and being ejected from his motorcycle.
Since then, Crutchley has been on a crusade to make the intersection safer.
Tuesday, he erected dozens of homemade stop light signs in the median, talked to passersby and held court with media outlets trying to get the word out about his efforts.
“I’m out here trying to raise awareness about the high number of accidents that happen at this intersection,” Crutchley said.
Pine Island Road, or State Road 78, falls under the state of Florida’s budgetary purview.
Crutchley said he contacted the Florida Department of Transportation, but felt his efforts were getting mired in traffic data that didn’t tell the whole story.
Crutchley said he’s contacted FDOT Secretary Stephanie Kapelousos and Gov. Rick Scott.
“I will continue to call until they get a light in place,” Crutchley said.
Local FDOT Public Information Director Debbie Tower said the intersection does not meet the required traffic volumes of 140 vehicles per hour to warrant a signal.
Tower said the intersection had been studied four separate times between 2001 – 2010.
The state did install a directional device in November that no longer allows left-hand turns onto Pine Island Road from Skyline, and there are plans to install a permanent median, Tower said.
Tower also said FDOT will continue to monitor the intersection, but there are no plans to install a traffic signal at this time.
“After Mr. Wheeler’s accident, we committed that we would come back and watch the operation of the intersection and look for anything that can be done differently,” Tower said. “We did that and did not see any factors that would change our decision.”
Crutchley said he counted hundreds of cars passing though the intersection Tuesday morning.
He said he is prepared to revisit the intersection as many times as it takes to ensure that not only a traffic signal is installed, but that his brother-in-law’s death was not in vain.
“He was the kind of guy that would do anything for anyone,” Crutchley said of Wheeler. “He was a loveable guy.”
William VanDuzen lives on Southwest 1st Terrace, which is close to the Skyline/Pine Island intersection.
VanDuzen said he uses Southwest 10th Place, which sits across from Skyline, numerous times every day. He said he’s seen dozens of accidents over the years.
“I’ve seen so many of these wrecks … it’s just so scary,” he said.
VanDuzen applauded the work of Crutchley, saying that he hopes his efforts will lead to traffic signal one day being put in place.
“I think he’s drawing attention to this dangerous intersection, which is good,” VanDuzen added. “There’s been some critically injured people here.”