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Pinellas Trail users to overcome traffic

A span over Central Avenue, Pasadena Avenue and First Avenue S is expected to be finished in September.

By JON WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Pinellas Trail users should be able to avoid some heavy city traffic by summer's end.

A span being built over Central Avenue, Pasadena Avenue and First Avenue S will carry pedestrians and bicyclists 27 feet above traffic zooming on the busy roads below.

The 1,500-foot-long flyover is expected to be finished in September, Florida Department of Transportation officials say.

Trail users have been able to cross the streets and negotiate the area without getting too far off the path. But the overpass will make life easier and safer.

The $2.29-million project began last fall. Federal money is paying for it, said FDOT spokeswoman Marion Pscion.

Several overpasses help link the roughly 35-mile trail section from Gibbs High School to a point near U.S. 19 east of Tarpon Springs.

One opened this year at the trail's intersection with Park Street. That overpass leads to the bridge over Cross Bayou and into the Bay Pines area.

Previously, users had to leave the trail at Park Street, dodge traffic, negotiate a rough quasi-path near the Target store, cross the traffic-laden Seminole Bridge, take a right at the first light and travel a few blocks through an industrial area before getting back on the trail near a KOA campground.

It meant slogging or pedaling more than a mile between trail heads.

The Park Street overpass and the opening of the trail bridge over Cross Bayou enhanced safety, and the Pasadena structure will do the same, officials say.

A separate section of the trail that runs through north Pinellas County will be connected to the main trail, which will increase its total length to 47 miles.

Further in the future is a proposal to cut a path on Florida Power property down the county's east side -- another step toward creating a trail network that would circle the entire county.

- Staff writer James Borchuck contributed to this report.

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