Trends Winter 2017 | Page 6


Public input is a vital component of any safety improvement project – no matter how big or small . Residents , business owners , and other stakeholders reap the most benefit from transportation infrastructure enhancements , but they also can serve as the eyes and ears for reporting when existing transportation systems aren ’ t functioning as they should .

While the intersection outside Crews Lake Middle School in Pasco County was already being studied for improvements , officials said , teenager Makayla Trowell ’ s work to secure influential supporters , compile facts and figures , and broadcast her efforts accelerated the process .
“ It was very inspirational to see a young mind work like that , and it was all her – it was pure determination on her part ,” said Michael Bunk , Pasco
County ’ s traffic engineering supervisor .
“ She knew exactly how to take the next steps ,” said David Huyck , the middle school ’ s principal . “ She started reaching out to people . Once she had the idea , she got critical partners in place . That ’ s actually more of an advanced skill for an eighth-grader to have .”
Jack Mariano , who has served on the Pasco County Board of Commissioners since 2004 , encourages public participation on projects . He praised Trowell ’ s efforts to actively engage in the process and compile her own data with assistance from others .
“ We ’ re elected by the people ,” he said , “ and we are responsive . When you see an issue – no matter what it is , no matter where it is – let your representative know that you want to get something changed .”
Trowell said she was appreciative of all the efforts by County and school representatives to make her dream a reality . She already has begun work on new projects , including ideas for safety upgrades at the high school she now attends in Hernando County and a new traffic signal outside a fire station in Pasco County .
She said she learned much from the process and offered some advice to others .
“ Definitely don ’ t give up on what you want to do ,” she said . “ There ’ s always going to be that one person – or multiple people – who are going to tell you that you are crazy and can ’ t do it , but you can ’ t let that stop you . You need to let that motivate you even more to reach your goal .”
– Eric Widholm with plans due within days rather than months . The final project was ready for construction to begin in just
over two weeks .
Collaboration was Key
“ It was just a team effort – a lot of coordination and communication with the County , our internal project team , and utility companies who all responded quickly and allowed us to complete this project successfully ,” said Jeff Siewert , Ayres Associates ’ project manager . “ Everyone was very responsive , making sure we were all on the same page .”
While the span wire traffic signal system was not the most elaborate that Ayres Associates ’ Traffic Engineer Tristan Hickman has designed , the accelerated pace was challenging , he said .
Span wire layouts , in general , allow poles to be placed farther from the roadway than mast arm installations . That said , designers still needed to account for new loop detectors and conduit paths being saw cut into place . This required extensive interaction with the County , utility companies , and Ayres Associates ’ subsurface utility locating group to pinpoint these items .
“ It ’ s really ramping up the process , where we ’ re checking utilities quickly and making sure everything is in place ,” Hickman said . “ Then we need to get back with the utility companies right away so when we place these signals there are no conflicts in the field . That was the dicey part for me . When you ’ re moving along this quickly , it ’ s easy to miss something .” A more elaborate intersection design would ’ ve slowed the project down considerably , Bunk said . County staff will continue to monitor the intersection , which is slated for a more permanent traffic signal structure when deemed necessary .
“ The result was very good , and we were able to get the plans out in record time ,” he said . “ Huge kudos to the Ayres team for getting the plans in and getting them reviewed . Literally , over a weekend , comments were made and accommodated into a set of plans , and the project went