This break in the median on BBD between Sonny’s BBQ near the Hollybrook Plaza (not shown) & Twistee Treat in front of the Village Market will be eliminated under FDOT’s safety plan. (Photo: John C. Cotey)

For anyone who has ever tried to cross through the median on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. from either of the side exits that lead out between the Sonny’s BBQ and SunTrust Bank adjacent to the Publix-anchored Hollybrook Plaza or just north of the Twistee Treat  near the Wesley Chapel Village Market onto BBD, it is often a harrowing experience and not an uncommon site to see an accident in that area.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently working on what will be a safer solution.

Currently in the design phase (cost: $500,000), plans include eliminating the median opening, installing a traffic signal at Eagleston Blvd. (just south of the Village Market) as well as a southbound U-turn lane at Eagleston, improving pedestrian options and adding an additional left turn lane to the northbound side of the BBD and S.R. 54 intersection.

The improvements are expected to ease the traffic dangers in that area and improve the flow during busy hours. The intersection has long been a hot topic for local residents. In a Neighborhood News Reader Survey in 2017, the intersection was chosen as the second-worst in Wesley Chapel, behind the I-75 and S.R. 56 intersection, which currently is under construction for a new Diverging Diamond Interchange .

The recent efforts by FDOT means that both intersections named as the worst in our survey will be improved within two years, although construction work at BBD and S.R. 54 isn’t expected to begin until the fall of 2021.

“This project was initiated after a safety study was performed recommending the closure of the first median opening south of S.R. 54/C.R. 54, and adding more capacity for the northbound left turn movement,” FDOT’s David Botello wrote in an email. “The new signal at Eagleston Blvd. was included to accommodate traffic being redirected by the median closure, and for future development along Eagleston Blvd.”

Because the split median will now be one long median from Eagleston all the way to S.R. 54, the northbound far left turn lane — which, when filled, would block those trying to cross over BBD — can be extended to accommodate more vehicles, helping reduce congestion.

For those needing to head south on BBD from the Hollybrook Plaza, there will no longer be a shortcut through the current median between Sonny’s and SunTrust.

As for those driving north on BBD who typically enter the Village Market through the break in the current median, they will now be better served turning left at the new light on Eagleston Blvd. and entering the Village Market from its southernmost portion.

“They will be provided a safer route by turning left at the signalized Eagleston intersection, and then turning right into the plaza,” Botello says.

If leaving the Village Market but needing to head north on BBD, drivers will be accommodated by the U-turn lane at Eagleston Blvd. (if they choose not to use either of the two exits that lead out to S.R. 54). 

Construction of the planned BBD/54 improvements is expected to be completed in 2022.

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