The 4-mile stretch of interstate between state roads 54 and 56 in Wesley Chapel is mix of construction zone concrete barriers, shortened shoulder widths, a change in asphalt levels and lane shifts. However, despite all these obstacles, accidents in this area have declined, according to crash data reports from the Florida Department of Transportation.
While fewer accidents have occurred, three people have died in accidents in the construction zone since 2012.
On March 4, 2011 the $23 million project to widen Interstate 75 from four lanes to eight began between State Road 54 and 56.
Before construction began, specifically between Jan. 5, 2009 and March 11, 2011, there were 161 crashes between state roads 54 and 56.
In 2009 there were 72 collisions, one of which resulted in a fatality, 74 crashes in 2010 and 15 accidents in 2011.
After construction was underway, from April 4, 2011 to Dec. 30, 2012, there were 110 crashes, 35 for the remainder of 2011 and 75 in 2012. One of the wrecks in 2012 killed a person. Two separate accidents this year resulted in two fatalities.
Despite the many changes that appear in this construction zone from one day to the next, the FDOT says the lanes have remained the standard 12 feet in width.
While the FDOT has tried to exercise extra precautions, serious crashes have taken place along this stretch of highway this year.
In March, an early morning accident between a mail-carrying semi and a concrete barrier produced a fire that destroyed hundreds of pieces of third-class mail. Although no one was harmed, traffic was diverted from that portion of the highway for most of the day.
On May 23, a woman whose car broke down on the side of the interstate in that same area was killed when she was hit by another vehicle. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the 22-year-old woman was standing in front of her car around 3:30 p.m. when she ran out in front of a truck towing a boat. The driver tried to avoid hitting the woman, but couldn’t. She died at the scene of the crash.
Just two days earlier, on May 21, a 61-year-old man was killed when a dump truck pulled out in front of the car he was driving, according to the FHP. The man was driving his 2012 Hyundai about 10:42 a.m. south on Interstate 75, just past State Road 56, when the dump truck, which was part of the construction crew, entered the southbound lane from the shoulder and struck the man’s car. The man died at the scene. The man’s wife and granddaughter, who were both passengers in the car, were airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa.
The construction project to widen I-75 was originally expected to wrap up in May, but now contractors have pushed the finish date back to this fall.
When the work is finally completed, the company will pay a $5,809.88 fine for each day over the completion date.
This means that for at least the next two months, drivers will have to continue maneuvering through this dangerous construction zone.
If you have been injured or someone you love has been killed in an auto accident in a construction zone, it can be difficult to determine who is legally responsible for the accident. That is why you must enlist the help of a Pasco County Auto Accident Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who can investigate the cause of your accident and identify whether a municipality, contractor or a negligent driver is responsible for your damages.
At Whittel & Melton, our personal injury lawyers will thoroughly review your construction accident case in order to identify what individuals or companies acted negligently. Once blame has been established, we can aggressively pursue financial compensation on your behalf from all of these parties.
We are dedicated to helping clients in Wesley Chapel, New Port Richey, Dade City and the surrounding area recover the maximum compensation they legally deserve. Let us put our experience to work for you. For a free consultation, please contact a Pasco County Auto Accident Injury Attorney at Whittel & Melton today online or call 727-847-2299.