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Funding gets needed road projects moving

The county will add a northbound turn lane at the entrance to Keystone Park, and the state will construct an additional northbound turn lane at Gunn and Wayne Road.

By JOSH ZIMMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 11, 2001


KEYSTONE -- Drivers who deal with daily rush hour backups on Gunn Highway can expect some relief, perhaps this year. The state and Hillsborough County agreed recently to fund two road projects near Keystone Park and the Austin-Davis Library.

The county will spend $106,000 adding a northbound turn lane at the entrance to the park and the community building, just south of Wayne Road. The state Department of Transportation plans to spend $220,000 constructing an additional northbound turn lane at Gunn and Wayne Road, the primary access route to the library.

Steve Morris, president of the Keystone Civic Association, said the community has been trying for several years to get approval for the projects. The road widenings should ease traffic backups on the busiest road in Keystone and make Gunn safer, he said.

During rush hour "You can invariably . . . hear the tires screeching," Morris said. "The same thing happens at Wayne Road. It is a safety issue, and we're really glad they're going to do something about it."

The county project is in the design process, said Jeff Herndon, a manager in the Public Works Department. Work is scheduled to take about three months and be completed before the end of the year unless the county has to acquire additional land for the turn lane.

The DOT expects to start its lane expansion work this summer, said spokeswoman Marian Pscion. In response to Morris' complaint, she said the project has been under review since 1998 but it took time to design the work and find the money. Gunn Highway is not a state road, so the department is using money from its safety budget.

The turn lanes don't "have to be designed by MIT," Morris said. "Just lay us a slab of asphalt so a truck or car can go around when someone takes a left turn."

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