102nd Ave. widening raises trail concerns
By ANNE LINDBERG
Published April 12, 2006
SEMINOLE - Relief is coming for drivers long frustrated with the traffic congestion along 102nd Avenue N.
Pinellas County is prepared to spend about $29-million during the next three years to widen a portion of the road from two to four lanes, bringing much-needed relief to motorists.
However, the improvements would intensify an already tough situation for recreationists using the Pinellas Trail because there isn't an overpass across 102nd Avenue N, Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds said.
"It would be very, very difficult for someone who's enjoying the trail to stop traffic and cross that reconstructed roadway," Edmunds said. "So, from a city perspective, we're strongly encouraging Pinellas County government to include a trail overpass as part of that project.''
It's unclear if the city will get its wish.
The county is just starting to design the project, said Peter Yauch, director of transportation for Pinellas County.
And while the county wants to include sidewalks and bike paths as part of the project, the idea of an overpass for the Pinellas Trail "is something we would be investigating and evaluating as part of our study," he said. "Maybe it would be a very good place for it."
Complicating the issue, he said, is the cost, as much as $3-million, and the number of requests for trail overpasses elsewhere in the county.
There's also the question of aesthetics, he said. Some "high-end" homes are located in that area, and the owners might not want to look at the concrete slab that would make up the side of an overpass.
An overpass is not the only solution, Yauch said, adding that one option is a concrete median in the middle of the road that would act as a "pedestrian refuge."
Current thinking would see the project done in three phases.
The first, costing about $13.2-million, would involve widening roughly 1.2 miles from 125th Street to 113th Street. The preliminary engineering report is expected in July, with the final design due in mid 2007. Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2008 and finish by mid 2009.
The second phase would go from 137th Street to 125th Street and is expected to cost about $11.7-million. The third phase would be from 113th Street to Seminole Boulevard and cost an estimated $4.1-million. No timetable has been set for the later phases.
Yauch said feedback has been mixed, with some welcoming relief from congestion, particularly at the trail intersection, and others who do not welcome a four-lane, divided road through their neighborhood.
[Last modified April 12, 2006, 08:21:27]
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