tampabay.com

Drivers: Bring map, patience

By JACOB H. FRIES
Published May 26, 2007


The wait has ended. Or maybe it's just beginning. After rush hour Friday, part of McMullen-Booth Road closed. In both directions. For up to three weeks. As tens of thousands of motorists search for new routes, traffic will grow on U.S. 19 and other major roads. And what do officials advise? Be patient.

Where and why will the road close?

The road will close at the CSX railroad crossing so the crossing can be rebuilt. That means you won't be able to get from Drew Street to State Road 580. Over the years, the rails have settled and the rubber aprons between the road and rails have broken down. The rail section being replaced is more than 220 feet long, so officials say they had to close all lanes. Traffic will be able to get to businesses all the way up to the tracks, but drivers will not be able to cross the tracks.

Why now?

The repairs have been scheduled several times since 2002, but officials delayed them so construction projects could increase the capacity of U.S. 19. They chose May to start because school is out, tourism falls off and traffic is lighter.

Who is paying?

The new crossing, estimated to cost $490, 000, will be paid for mostly with Penny for Pinellas sales tax monies. CSX will pay $270, 000 to replace the rails and raise them more than 4 inches.

Are there alternatives?

Going south, Take State Road 580 west to U.S. 19, then go south to Drew Street, and take Drew Street back to McMullen-Booth Road. Reverse that path if you need to go north. Or try Belcher or Keene roads.

How can I learn more?

Call Pinellas County's hotline at 727 453-3320 or visit www.pinellascounty.org/ roadwork.htm.

How can I give someone a piece of my mind about this?

E-mail jfries@sptimes.com Please include your phone number in your message.

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