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2 more lanes, bikes and a median

Seminole The opposition gathers to fight the proposed work on 102nd Avenue.

By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
Published November 14, 2007


It's still early, but opposition is already organizing to fight a proposed plan to widen 102nd Avenue N.

The proposal, which is in the conceptual, predesign stage, would see the road widened to four lanes, with a median and bike lanes. The configuration would also prevent left turns in and out of several of the higher-end subdivisions along the road.

Opponents have already collected names on petitions and have contacted John Morroni, the county commissioner who represents the area. The opponents also have permission to set up a table Thursday during a public information meeting that county officials are using to gather community comment. The opponents hope to gather more signatures on their petitions, according to Marjorie Bulone, who is spearheading the antiwidening drive.

But it's hard to know whether the opposition will have any effect once the issue comes before the Pinellas County Commission for a vote. At least one member, Susan Latvala, has already urged fellow commissioners to ignore what they will hear from the opponents. She was speaking at the Nov. 6 commission meeting after members were shown the draft preliminary engineering report.

"I really support going to the four lanes," Latvala said.

Residents in North Pinellas also objected to road widenings there, she said, but now that the work is done, it's safer and easier to drive there. Latvala said she does not believe those residents who complained are unhappy now that they see the results.

On the other hand, she said, when Alternate 19 was up for widening, too much attention was paid to those who complained.

"It's a disaster now. They listened to the public and did what the public wanted," Latvala said. "They listened to the community (and) it's always congested through there."

There is no indication that Alternate 19 will be upgraded in the future, she said.

"I just think it's important to do what's right for the future," Latvala said. "It's painful for the public and it's painful for the people who live there while it's happening."

But the results, she said, are worth the bother.

Morroni, who has already heard objections from area residents, said he understood Latvala's concerns, but northern Pinellas is continuing to grow. The area around 102nd Avenue N is built out and, with the possible exception of St. Petersburg College, no more traffic is likely to come to the area. That might mean 102nd does not have to go to four lanes, he said.

"I think it puts a major hardship on the people who are there now," Morroni said. "I don't want thousands more cars" on that road.

The proposal that residents will see Thursday involves widening 102nd from Seminole Boulevard west to Antilles Drive (137th Street N). The road would be four lanes with bike lanes on both sides and a median. The project would be done in three phases. The exact boundaries of those phases have not been established. But Phase I, the middle portion, is estimated to cost $18.6-million, which includes buying land for right of way, beautification, a bridge widening and the roadwork itself. Construction would likely start in the summer of 2010.

Phase II, the westward-most section of the project area, is expected to cost about $13.2-million, which includes the roadwork, a pedestrian bridge for the Pinellas Trail where it crosses 102nd, and road beautification. It is unclear when this phase might begin.

Phase III, the eastern-most section of the roadway, is estimated to cost $1.2-million, including the roadwork and beautification. It is also unclear when this work might be done.

If you go

Public meeting

Pinellas County will hold a public meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday to get comments about a proposed project to widen 102nd Avenue N from Seminole Boulevard to Antilles Drive (137th Street N). The meeting will be at Seminole High School, 8401 131st St. N, Seminole. For information, call 464-3631.

[Last modified November 13, 2007, 22:33:12]

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