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County wants to realign road

Hillsborough wants to straighten S Mobley Road as it approaches a busy intersection with Race Track Road.

By JOSH ZIMMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001


KEYSTONE -- County staff are recommending a major realignment of the busy intersection at S Mobley and Race Track roads.

Under the proposal, S Mobley would become a straighter road as it approaches Race Track instead of curving sharply to the north and back west again. The new intersection would have a traffic light and turn lanes in all directions, according to a final report submitted last week by King Engineering Inc.

County engineers view the changes as necessary in light of an expected traffic spike due to nearby development and the soon-to-be-opened Edward Radice Sports Complex on S Mobley Road. A new east-west connector between Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, which will join at the intersection of Linebaugh Avenue and Race Track, is expected to add more cars to the section of road between Race Track and S Mobley.

King Engineering looked at 11 proposals, including not changing the intersection at all.

"We think that's probably the most realistic option at this point," manager of traffic services Michael McCarthy said. "It fits with what I think is the current need."

McCarthy also said the proposed $2.7-million realignment would make the intersection safer. The estimated price does not include the cost of obtaining rights-of-way and installing the traffic signal.

The study was required under a controversial land swap approved last year between the county and developer Bill Bishop, who is attempting to rezone 320 acres at the intersection's southeast corner for a mixed-use community called Highland Park. Bishop obtained the property from Hillsborough after he promised he would build an equestrian center for the disabled on land he donated at the adjacent park.

Highland Park's site plan calls for up to 520 homes and 140,000-square-feet of business or commercial space.

A provision of the land swap allows the county to keep property, so the report will help planners determine how much is needed for future projects, said Peggy Hamric, a technical services manager in the county's real estate division.

Under the proposal, S Mobley would skirt the softball and baseball field before cutting through a small amount of wetlands.

"The last thing we need to do is sell county property and come back 15 and 20 years from now and buy it," she said.

The findings will be sent to Leslie Land Corp., Bishop's development company, she said. His current site plan already includes a nearly identical realignment, records show.

Hamric said the final contract with Leslie Land Corp. could be closed this summer.

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