Preliminary work on a $1.4 million roundabout at County Road 491 and U.S. 98 has begun.
Motorists who frequent that busy intersection have likely noticed orange flags. Those mark the utility relocations in advance of the project, said Kris Carson, spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Design is already underway for the roundabout.
“We expect construction to begin in October or November of this year, with a projected completion of Spring 2023," Carson said.
That intersection is 3.4 miles south of the Citrus County line and is well-traveled by Citrus and Hernando motorists. It's seen many accidents and fatalities through the years, and the FDOT determined a roundabout — rather than a traffic light — would be the best safety option.
To cut down on accidents until built, FDOT installed rumble strips on either side of C.R. 491 to U.S. 98 to alert drivers a major intersection is coming up and to slow down.
Right now, there is only a flashing light. Drivers going south or north on C.R. 491 must stop at the red blinker while motorists going east or west on U.S. 98 have a yellow cautionary light.
Donna Dilling, owner of DesChamps Corner gas station/convenience store on the northeast corner of the intersection, has complained about the proposed roundabout for years because she doesn't think it will solve anything.
Dilling has had an ongoing petition on the counter of her store asking people to support a traffic light at the dangerous intersection.
DesChamps is a favorite stopping place for truckers and is frequented by folks headed to Hernando County for shopping or to reach the Suncoast Parkway just west of the store.
FDOT officials, who proposed the roundabout about four years ago, said a roundabout will slow speeds and the motion of traffic will move in the same direction.
Once built, there will be a flashing beacon, rumble strips, navigation signs and a gradual decrease in speed limit put in place to alert motorists the roundabout is ahead.