A St. Petersburg man died late last week when his pickup collided head-on with a dump truck on Burnt Store Road in Charlotte County.
It’s the 11th traffic fatality in the county this year. That’s nearly twice as many as this time last year. The wreck closed Burnt Store for hours. Charlotte County Public Works Director - Tom O’Kane – says the county already had plans there for safety improvements later this year.
“This is a very narrow roadway…it’s only 20 feet of pavement, not unusual in Florida, that was the standard at one time…what we’re proceeding with is adding 4-foot shoulders on both sides. What that does is it gives people that travel the corridor the appearance of a wider roadway, and rather than having these drop-offs that occur because of truck traffic or buses or whatever, you’ll have a paved shoulder to improve safety in the corridor.”
The accident occurred where the edge of the road drops off sharply…with no shoulder. O’Kane says it’s a constant problem… adding that until Hurricane Charley, they were able to more regularly maintain shoulders. He says since the storm, crews have been unable to do it as often. There are several studies underway looking into widening Burnt Store Road to 4 lanes. O’Kane says it’ll be at least 5 or 10 years before it happens. But, he says speed’s always been a concern on the corridor, and that a wider road may add to the problem.
“As soon as we get those shoulders finished…you know the average speed is probably around 60 or 70 miles now is actually going to go up because people will feel that it’s safer to drive at those higher speeds. The posted speed at 55…I guess they think they’re in Montana where during the daylight hours you can drive at any speed.”
The Developer of Tern Bay - an 18-hundred home development about 3 miles north of the Lee/Charlotte line – has agreed to widen nearly two miles of Burnt Store Road near its project. A new study by The Road Information Program – a national transportation research group—shows Florida’s rural roads are among the most dangerous in the nation.
Monday, 07 March 2005 00:00