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    Ulmerton Road relief is coming, but slowly

    Plans for the widening of mid Pinellas’ main thoroughfare are released, but construction doesn’t start until 2004.

    By JEAN HELLER

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 24, 2001


    The long-promised and sorely needed widening of Ulmerton Road, one of Pinellas County's busiest east-west highways, finally has a schedule.

    And it's a long one, as might be expected with a project that will make major improvements from the Roosevelt Boulevard interchange east of 34th Street to a point 10 miles west at 119th Street.

    [Times photo: Boyzell Hosey]
    Congestion along Ulmerton Road's so-called Miracle Mile between the two Roosevelt Boulevard interchanges will get help from road work planned for later this decade.

    Additional improvements also will be made in the relatively new lanes of Ulmerton from 34th Street to Interstate 275.

    The budget for those portions of the project already on the schedule is nearly $70-million, the largest chunk of which is for right of way acquisition.

    The first construction, for a segment from U.S. 19 to 49th Street, won't begin until 2004. For some segments, only design is planned before 2006. For others, design, right of way acquisition and construction are all on the calendar.

    But when the project is finished, and no one knows quite when that will be, a major source of traffic aggravation at mid county will ease.

    The construction would make Ulmerton a six-lane road from 119th Street to I-275, according to Jeraldo Comellas Jr., district engineer for FDOT's Environmental Management Office. There would also be a continuous right turn lane for the segment between 49th Street and the eastern Roosevelt Boulevard interchange.

    "The recommended alternative proposes a six-lane divided facility for Ulmerton Road from 119th Street to I-275 with an additional continuous right turn lane provided for the segment from east of 49th Street to east of the eastern Roosevelt Boulevard interchange," Jeraldo Comellas Jr., district engineer for FDOT's Environmental Management Office, wrote to local public officials.

    It is hoped those right-turn lanes will unclog one of Ulmerton's worst bottlenecks, the so-called Miracle Mile between the two Rososevelt Boulevard interchanges. The three through lanes in each direction will lose their curb cuts and traffic lights and provide non-stop travel.

    Access to the businesses along that stretch will be from the turn lanes, which become frontage roads.

    This work will require alterations and improvements to the Roosevelt interchanges.

    In addition, Comellas said, major intersection improvements would be made at Starkey Road, Belcher Road and 66th Street.

    The first stage, between U.S. 19 and 49th Street, is in the design phase now and will go to right of way acquisition next year before construction in 2004.

    Next will be a stretch from 119th Street to a point between Starkey and Belcher. It, too, is in the design phase, will go to right of way acquisition next year and construction in 2005.

    Other stretches have been scheduled for design. Some additional right of way acquisition is planned, but no other construction is scheduled at this point.

    The last project will be the stretch from 34th Street to I-275.

    "We won't be putting in any new through lanes there, but we will be looking at it with an eye to some additional turn lanes," said Marian Psion, spokeswoman for the FDOT in Tampa.

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