It's been a long time coming but the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and SW Martin Luther King Jr./SW Palm in Arcadia will get much-needed TLC ... in the form of traffic signals, street lights and pedestrian crossing alerts.
Work starts in 2021. But it's a start on a problem dragging out for years. The newly expanded north/south highway intersecting MLK Jr. Street with SW Palm Drive has long been dangerous. Pedestrians darting across the road and drivers shooting the gap have caused serious consequences. A driver in late August died while crossing the six-lane highway from MLK to Palm. And a man was killed this year stepping from the northbound Highway 17 curb near the MLK Jr./Palm intersection.
From what it sounds like, however, the Florida Department of Transportation, or FDOT, finally got the message, as Arcadia police Marshal Matthew Anderson announced that the state agency will place traffic lights at the intersection. Street lighting along the highway, flashing warning signage and other improvements will be added.
"The public is going to take this as outstanding news," Anderson said.
For decades, this intersection has been the subject of complaints for the community, according to Anderson.
"We’ve done so many pedestrian studies and traffic studies ... we’ve done a lot," he said.
FDOT administrators will place roadway design and equipment funding in the 2020-21 budget. Exact work dates will be announced down the road. Anderson credits state Sen. Ben Albritton and legislative aide Karen Whaley for pushing buttons in Tallahassee.
"I know that is still a long way away ... but it is going to happen," Anderson said at the Sept. 10 council hearing.
FDOT's Zachary Burch agreed the time is right for traffic updates at the dangerous intersection. "I think everyone will be happy," said Burch, FDOT's Government Affairs and Communications Manager.
Sidenote: Arcadia city council holds a final budget/millage hearing at 5:05 p.m. next Wednesday. The regular meeting begins at 6 p.m.