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Push for light at Pine Island Road and Veterans continues

By Staff | Jun 11, 2011

With several more crashes at Pine Island Road and Skyline Boulevard since March, one man continues to push for a traffic light at the intersection.
Spencer Crutchley lost his brother-in-law, Scott Wheeler, on Jan. 12 when Wheeler sustained fatal injures during an accident at Pine Island and Skyline. Wheeler was on a motorcycle traveling eastbound when a westbound vehicle tried to turn south onto Skyline. The two collided and Wheeler was ejected.
Crutchley recently pointed out to transportation officials that 10 accidents have now occurred at the intersection between November and May.
There had been four crashes recorded up through March.
“I feel that if there is a traffic light, people are going to be more prone to pay attention,” Crutchley said.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, the intersection does not meet the criteria for a traffic light. FDOT conducted four studies at the site between 2001 and January 2010 to see if a light was justified.
The minimum requirements include the number of left turns from the side streets, meaning Skyline and Southwest 10th Place, onto Pine Island, as well as through movements from one side street, straight across to the other.
FDOT found that the minimum volume requirements were not being met.
“It’s frustrating because it just seems like they have one type of criteria,” Crutchley said. “To me, I think the criteria might be set too high.”
The department also looked at the crash history at the intersection.
FDOT found that many accidents involved vehicles trying to make left turns off of Pine Island onto the side streets, or rear-end fender benders involving vehicles waiting to turn onto Pine Island from the side streets. In an attempt to curb the crashes, a directional median opening was installed in November.
In the fall, FDOT plans to replace the interim dividers with a permanent concrete one that will channel traffic in the same manner. A U-turn will be opened between Skyline and Nicholas Parkway for those motorists headed northbound on Skyline who want to travel westbound on Pine Island.
Debbie Tower, a spokeswoman for the FDOT’s district operations for the southwest area, confirmed that there have been more crashes since March. But, she added, they are the same types of crashes that were being seen.
“These kinds of crashes are not presenting anything that would give us reason to adjust,” Tower said. “We don’t see anything that requires any adjustment in that design.”
Three of the crashes involved drivers attempting to make left turns onto Skyline and the remainder were rear-end fender benders. She said the 10th crash pointed out by Crutchley was close to the intersection, but not at it.
Crutchley argued that the crashes should count for something.
“Think of the lives that were affected with those types of accidents,” he said. “I’m still going to continue to fight for a light.”
According to Tower, the FDOT is not opposed to installing a traffic light at the intersection as long as it is warranted. For example, new development in the area can change traffic patterns and increase volume, requiring a light.
“It’s not anything we’re anticipating in the near future, but we’re open-minded about it,” she said.
Construction on the permanent median opening should be completed by the end of the year or by the first of the new year.