We received your letter on behalf of BikeWalkLee requesting approval and installation of a traffic signal at the Michael G. Rippe Parkway/Briarcliff Road intersection. As you know, the Florida Department of Transportation has completed the traffic signal warrant study for this intersection and it has met a primary warrant for “wait time” that drivers experience on Briarcliff Road. The department has approved the installation of the signal. Along with the installation of the signal, marked crosswalks and pedestrian features will be included. We are ordering mast arms and poles for the traffic signal and expect delivery in about six months. Increased demand for these materials associated with recovery from Hurricane Sandy is delaying production and delivery. Lee County will start construction to install the signal next summer and we estimate it will be operational next fall.
I would like to address several of your remarks in the letter, including your perception that traffic signals provide safe conditions for all users of the roadway. Research shows that traffic signals in place without proper justification can actually reduce safety at an intersection. Traffic signals are installed to allocate time to all users (motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians) at intersections when conditions don’t provide adequate gaps in traffic to allow side street users to cross or turn left onto the roadway. Unwarranted traffic signals create impatience in drivers whose resulting dangerous behavior becomes frequent red light running. Even at warranted traffic signals, far too many severe crashes occur, including fatalities, and rear-end crashes increase, in particular.
As you and I have discussed several times, the department takes safety for all users throughout the state very seriously, and we have made significant progress toward enhanced safety on our roadways during the past decade. Contrary to statements made in the press, we do not design dangerous intersections – but we do recognize the need for continued emphasis on safety, and in February 2013, our Alert Today Alive Tomorrow campaign begins. As you know, Lee County is one of ten counties in Florida where we will initially focus on expanding education and enforcement in combination with supplementing engineering treatments to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety. We need BikeWalkLee’s support in improving safety through education, enforcement and engineering as well as in bringing attention to land development patterns that enhance walkability and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.................
Billy Hattaway, P.E.
District One Secretary
Florida Department of Transportation
(863) 519-2201, Fax (863) 534-7265