NEW PORT RICHEY — Compromises on U.S. 19 medians allowed local business owners and state transportation officials to meet somewhere in the middle last week.
Florida Department of Transportation officials insisted on removing a left-turn lane opening from southbound U.S. 19 onto Bridge Road, about half a block north of Main Street.
The Bridge Road access, though, could create a new controversy locally. Real estate broker Chuck Grey was miffed that Mayor Rob Marlowe individually sent a message to DOT against the left turns onto Bridge.
Tenants in Richey Plaza fared better, with DOT obliging a request for a northbound turn lane into the southern entrance of the shopping center near Palmetto Road.
Grey, of the F.I. Grey and Son commercial real estate firm, said Thursday that some 40 workers relied on the U.S. 19 left turns onto Bridge Road. The corner also is home to Coldwell Banker Residential, St. Vincent DePaul, the Flyer, Verizon Wireless and other firms. Several nearby medical companies also use Bridge for access.
The intersection has logged only one traffic accident in recent memory, Grey said during a phone interview. He said the left-turn access onto Bridge has been there since 1955.
Grey grudgingly accepted the DOT concession for U-turns at the Main Street intersection.
“I don’t think it’s any more safe,” Grey said. “In general I think it’s safer to make a left turn.”
“I’m going to pursue that. I think that was completely unwarranted,” Grey said.
“As requested by the mayor, I read the attached email” at the May 28 meeting of the Access management Review Committee, Jim Scott, an engineer for the DOT District 7 office, wrote in an email.
Marlowe provided a copy of his original email dated May 23 to DOT that reads in part:
“My schedule precludes my attendance next Wednesday. Please advise the committee of my views on … issues being discussed for U.S. 19 within the city limits of New Port Richey.
“I am not in favor of reopening the median cut at Bridge Road. There appears to be little or no reason to do so and the safety issue of cars in the turn lane for Main Street stopping short at Bridge Road is a major concern.”
“The median cut caused multiple problems in the past, including people unexpectedly stopping short at the cut so they could avoid waiting for the light. Some of these folks would then speed down Bridge Road all the way to River Road, resulting in complaints by local residents about the traffic.”