Motorists cruising through the intersection of State Road 54 and U.S. 41 might have noticed some differences in the timing of the traffic signals.
The intervals between green lights and red lights have changed there and also in front of Lowe’s home improvement store off State Road 54.
Not everyone is happy with the change, especially motorists who say they sit through more than one light interval to make a left turn heading south on U.S. 41 to go east on State Road 54.
On the plus side, though, motorists crossing the railroad tracks at the apex where North Dale Mabry Highway and U.S. 41 intersect may be experiencing a clearer path for merging, as they approach State Road 54.
Those observations are correct, according to Florida Department of Transportation officials who explained the changes, via email.
The road officials tweaked traffic signals in an effort to enhance traffic flows and improve safety for motorists navigating through or near State Road 54 and U.S. 41.
About 100,000 vehicles a day go through the intersection.
State traffic engineers noted a higher than average number of fender-benders, side swipes and rear-end crashes in recent years as motorists leave North Dale Mabry Highway to merge onto northbound U.S. 41.
Since 2010, a total of 98 accidents occurred in the area where the two roads converge. The most accidents were recorded in 2013, when there were 37 crashes. That was 14 crashes more than the previous year. The number dropped in 2015, but state road officials still recorded 20 wrecks.
With a traffic signal adjustment, vehicles from North Dale Mabry Highway now are less likely to merge at the juncture at the same time as motorists who stop at the light on U.S. 41, outside the Walmart, but otherwise have a long stretch of roadway with no stops.
State engineers also focused on improving traffic flows through State Road 54 and U.S. 41.
They studied signal timings for peak traffic in the morning and afternoon, and at midday. Changes were based in part on higher traffic volumes for westbound traffic versus left turns from U.S. 41.
Complete cycle periods at the intersection generally range from 140 seconds to 190 seconds, depending on peak and off-peak hours. Signals also have sensors that can tweak timing a few seconds based on current traffic conditions.
While some motorists now might wait longer to make a left turn onto State Road 54, they likely will have smooth sailing past the signal at Lowe’s. And, with tweaks, motorists exiting Lowe’s heading west are more likely to get the green light at U.S. 41 where previously they would have been forced to stop.
Looking at midday data, state transportation officials found eastbound traffic could slow because vehicles arrived at Lowe’s just prior to the signal turning green. Now, both eastbound and southbound left turns flow more quickly through the light at Lowe’s.
Published April 27, 2016