The long-awaited signal installation at the intersection of State Road 60 west of Bartow at Alturas Road is underway and motorists may expect lane closures, said the Florida Department of Transportation.
The project involves installation of new signals, extending the turn lanes from State Road 60 to Alturas Road, pedestrian features and upgrades to meet current standards are part of the $596,600 project being performed by Traffic Control Devices Inc., said Robin Stublen, spokesman for FDOT, District 1.
The project also includes installing signal back plates, street lighting and pavement markings, Stublen said.
Stublen also said motorists should be aware of the permanent lowering of the speed limit from 65 miles per hour to 55. “We want people to be sure and watch for workers and be aware of lane closures,” Stublen added.
The lane closures may occur between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday while the project is underway, the FDOT spokesman added.
The work began this month and is expected to continue until late fall.
The work was decided after FDOT engineers met with Alturas residents and Polk County Commissioner Melony Bell in February when the residents complained about traffic at the intersection and voiced their concerns about the expected increase in traffic due to the opening of the CSX Inter-Modal Transfer Terminal just east of the intersection.
FDOT said the department had “fast-tracked” the project in 2013 when it found safety funds that could be used to pay for the project.
“If we hadn’t found that money,” explained FDOT Traffic Operations Engineer L.K. Nandam, “it would have taken us much longer. We were fortunate that we were able to locate the needed funds.”
At the February meeting, some residents still voiced their concerns about the intersection when proposed improvements to the Circle K convenience store on the southwest corner of the intersection were installed.
“That potential danger is very real to us,” said Alturas resident Wayne Guest.
Nandam said that improvements being installed are also including longer turn lanes that also will serve the convenience store traffic entering eastbound and the signal would address those entering the store heading west.
While the signal will help, residents said at the February meeting, they still had concerns about the increased truck traffic expected. “If there’s going to be 1,000 to 2,500 trucks on 60 after that CSX thing opens, it’s a major concern,” said Alturan Larry Parrish.
The FDOT said its traffic operations and operations divisions would be monitoring the traffic and would revisit the issue if the numbers warranted it.
The project work will be performed during daylight hours, according to Stublen.