Wider CR 1 to ease traffic pressure
By ROBERT FARLEY, Times Staff Writer
PALM HARBOR -- Those who have sat, agitated, in rush-hour traffic backups on Alt. U.S. 19 now have an improved alternative: County Road 1.
The important north-south road has been widened from two lanes to four between Curlew and Tampa roads.
The $5.2-million project, under construction since May of last year, is the latest county effort to alleviate overtaxed U.S. 19 and Alt. U.S. 19.
Last year, 96,000 cars a day passed through Palm Harbor on U.S. 19. Another 25,000 used Alt. U.S. 19.
That's too many, county planners say.
In July, the county completed a nearly $6-million extension of Belcher Road between Tampa and Alderman roads. Designs have begun to extend Belcher farther north, to Klosterman Road. Work isn't scheduled to begin until 2007.
The county's aim is simple, said Jim Collins, county engineer. "It's to alleviate the adjacent north-south corridors (U.S. 19 and Alt. U.S. 19), which have far too much congestion on them already," he said.
"All of these work together," said county planning director Brian Smith. "The County Road 1 project is a key improvement."
The Belcher Road extension already has "made a big difference" in reducing traffic on U.S. 19, Smith said. The widening of County Road 1 is expected to lift the burden even more.
"Even though it is on the west side, it is helping U.S. 19 quite a bit," Smith said.
The main goal is to alleviate traffic on Alt. U.S. 19, an F-rated road by the county's measure. Alt. U.S. 19, with two lanes, can't be widened, Smith said, so alternatives like County Road 1 are imperative.
The newly widened stretch of County Road 1 opened three weeks ago, but finishing touches like replacing broken sidewalks and completing medians are still under way, said Paul Giuliani, Pinellas County's division engineer for construction administration.
The work, done by Cone and Graham Inc. of Tampa, was scheduled to be complete in June but was delayed by unforeseen utility work, Giuliani said.
County Road 1 will remain one lane in each direction north of Tampa Road to its end at Alderman Road. But in 2003, the county plans to begin a $2.3-million project to modernize that stretch of County Road 1 with turn lanes, bicycle lanes, new curbs and gutters, and a center turn lane in spots. The heavily used intersection with Nebraska Avenue will get a traffic signal.
Construction is under way to extend Keene Road (County Road 1) between Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Drew Street. In November, preliminary work will begin to extend the road north to Sunset Point Road. So it will eventually be possible to take County Road 1 from Palm Harbor to St. Petersburg.
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