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Phases for Starkey Road widening reach priority

Residents can view the plans for Phase 4 from Ulmerton to East Bay Drive at a meeting today.

By ANNE LINDBERG, Time Staff Writer
Published December 12, 2007

Two pedestrians cross East Bay Drive at Keene and Starkey roads. Largo police designated the intersection as one of the most dangerous.
[Douglas R. Clifford | Times (2001)]

Slowly but surely Pinellas County is finalizing plans to widen Starkey Road. Just this week, two pieces of the four-phase project are high on the agenda:

- Today, a public meeting has been set to give people a chance to see what's planned for Phase 4 -from Ulmerton to East Bay Drive - and to comment.

- The Board of County Commissioners was scheduled to discuss Phase 2 - from Bryan Dairy Road to Ulmerton Road - during a work session Tuesday.

- Construction is scheduled to begin on Phase I - from 84th Lane to Bryan Dairy Road - this summer. All four phases of the upgrading are scheduled to be complete in 2015 or 2016.

Starkey has long been notorious for its congestion and the county has long planned to widen the road starting at Tyrone Boulevard, where it's called Park Street, and ending at East Bay Drive in Clearwater. The four phases are expected to cost a total of about $113-million.

Phase 4, up for public viewing and comments this afternoon, will start at the intersection of Starkey and Ulmerton and go north to East Bay Drive where the improvements will end.

Preliminary design of Phase 4 is expected to be completed by September and the final design should be finished by October 2009.

Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2013 and take two or three years to complete. The cost for this section alone is estimated at $33-million in 2013 dollars for the 1.5-mile project.

This section of Starkey is a four-lane divided highway. When upgrading is finished, it will be a six-lane divided road with curbs, gutters, sidewalks and bicycle paths on both sides of the road.

While there has been little or no outcry over this phase of the proposed widening, the city of Seminole has lodged complaints with Pinellas County over the effect of the widening on Fire Station 30, 8971 Starkey Road.

The station already sits so close to the roadway that fire trucks barely fit on the pad in front of the building. If the road is widened there, the trucks will not fit on the pad without being in the drive lane.

City officials had asked the county for the money to relocate the station, which serves unincorporated Pinellas. But the county was reluctant to build a new station, saying the widening would not create a hazard.

It is unclear where negotiations stand between the city and county. Neither Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds nor fire Chief Dan Graves could be reached for comment.

It is also unlikely the project will sail through without objection. Starkey is lined with condominiums, apartments and businesses that could be affected by the changes.

If you go

Check out the project's fourth phase today

Pinellas County officials will host an informational meeting to give people a chance to see what improvements are planned in the fourth phase of a massive widening project along Starkey Road. The portion of the road affected in the fourth phase starts at Ulmerton Road and goes north to East Bay Drive. The public meeting is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. today in the cafeteria at Osceola High School, 9751 98th St. N, Seminole. For information, call 464-3622.

[Last modified December 11, 2007, 22:59:14]

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