The intersection of Gulf to Bay and Belcher Road in Clearwater is dangerous. According to a recent report in the Tampa Bay Times, this intersection has had the highest frequency of crashes of all intersections in Clearwater in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018 and has ranked in the top four each year since 2010. I can attest to it. Living off Belcher south of Gulf to Bay and working on Belcher north of Gulf to Bay, I travel through this intersection multiple times on a daily basis. According to reports, 1.8 million cars traveled east-west through the intersection in one month, and at peak times the number has hit 2 million.
Many studies have been performed to see how the intersection of Gulf to Bay and Belcher can be safer. Even an overpass was considered. However, the Tampa Bay Times reports that county traffic engineers are now proposing a Median U-Turn, or Michigan Left Turn, for the intersection, which would eliminate the ability to make any left turns. Drivers heading east or west on Gulf to Bay would have to go through the intersection, make a u-turn at a signalized median and then a right turn to go north or south on Belcher. Drivers heading north or south on Belcher would have to turn right on Gulf to Bay and then make a u-turn to head east or west.
According to an analysis by engineering firm Ayres Associates, the project would cost $13.3 million – that’s much lower than the $80 million overpass possibility.
Michigan was the first to begin implementing the Median U-Turn design in the 1960s and today has several hundred indirect left-turn intersections, according to Michigan Department of Transportation engineer William Taylor. Taylor said the design has reduced crashes by 30 to 40 percent, an average based on various before and after studies.
An interesting idea to reduce the number of left turn car accidents at Gulf to Bay and Belcher Road. What do you think?
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