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Few hear about Starkey plans

Just a handful of people show up to learn about Phase 4 of the widening of Starkey Road.

By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
Published December 16, 2007


SEMINOLE - The liveliest part of last week's meeting concerning Starkey Road improvements was the wrestling practice on the other side of the room.

The wrestlers had more observers than the folks who showed up to see what Pinellas County has planned for the 1.5-mile stretch of Starkey between Ulmerton Road and East Bay Drive.

The improvements are the fourth phase of a $113-million project that will widen Starkey from Tyrone, where it is called Park Street, to East Bay.

The first phase, from 84th Lane to Bryan Dairy Road, is scheduled to start this summer. Completion of all four phases is expected in 2015 or 2016.

When finished, Starkey will be a six-lane divided road with curbs, gutters, sidewalks and bicycle paths on both sides of the road.

The public meeting Wednesday was set up to give folks along Starkey a chance to see what's proposed and to comment or suggest changes before plans are finalized. But only a handful of people showed up to look at the ideas for Phase 4 of the overall project.

Those who did show were business owners in the largely industrial area. They were concerned about the ability of their semitrailers and other huge trucks to get out of their driveways and across all lanes of traffic so they could go north or south. The design that was shown would prevent some vehicles from exiting and turning left across traffic lanes. A car could easily make a right turn, go up the street a bit and do a U-turn to go back in the opposite direction. But semitrailers would not be able to do that.

Pinellas County officials noted the objections and then waited for more folks to show up during the three-hour drop-in.

But they didn't lack entertainment. The meeting was held in the Osceola High School cafeteria, where the school's wrestling team practices. Once the wrestling team rolled up the mats, basketball practice was scheduled to begin.

It is not unusual for county meetings about road improvements to compete with other activities. Many of the meetings are held at school cafeterias or auditoriums, which have room for large maps and a lot of people.

[Last modified December 15, 2007, 21:59:03]

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