Changes coming to dangerous Manatee Co. intersection

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Safety upgrades are coming for a dangerous Manatee County intersection where two teens were recently killed in a crash.

According to FDOT, in the last four years, there have been 18 crashes at the intersection of State Route 64 and Pope Road in Bradenton.

Two of the crashes were deadly, including the most recent that killed two Lakewood Ranch High School students.

"He was a big jokester," the crash victim's father Dan Powers said. "He loved being around his friends. He loved music. He just loved doing stuff with his friends and enjoying himself."

15-year-old Matthew Powers and 17-year-old Chase Coyner were both killed in a crash on September 15. As they turned left onto Pope Road from State Route 64, investigators say a car hit them.

"In those left turn lanes, if there are cars in the opposite left turn lanes, your vision is blocked, you can't see," Powers said. "Speeding compounds the problem. No one goes the speed limit on that road."

Dan Powers is now mourning the loss of his son who was killed at an intersection many consider dangerous and in desperate need of upgrades.

Weeks before the crash, another crash happened at the same intersection. This time it involved Larry Luh's teenage son, who wasn't injured, but his car was totaled.

"Anytime there is a loss of life. It can't affect any more parent more than that in our community," Luh said. "Considering, my son was involved in an accident 3 weeks prior to the loss of these young people's lives made an impact on me as a parent to say we need to educate leadership to do some changes."

The Florida Department of Transportation now plans to temporarily close the left turn lane on Pope Road from State Route 64, making it so drivers traveling westbound can't turn on Pope and instead have to make a U-turn at the next intersection.

"I think a traffic light would help break up the traffic so all the other roads going on to 64 would have an easier time getting on," Powers said. "It would help slow the traffic and it would make it safer for the cars to actually cross the road."

FDOT doesn't have any plans to install a traffic light, but they do plan on installing a roundabout. Construction won't begin until 2023.

The latest change to close the left turn lane on to Pope Road from State Route 64 is set to take effect Monday, October 1.