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Linebaugh extension work will get rolling
By ED QUIOCO
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000
OLDSMAR -- Construction will begin soon on a road that will provide another route from the city to Hillsborough County -- good news for North Pinellas shoppers heading to Citrus Park Town Center.
With a cost of about $6-million, the project will connect Forest Lakes Boulevard in Oldsmar to Linebaugh Avenue in Hillsborough and is scheduled to take 545 days to complete, said Jim Collins, Pinellas County division engineer.
The county has begun the formal process of choosing a company to build the road and anticipates having one selected in July. Work is expected to begin two months later.
"The new road is going to be a reliever of Tampa Road traffic, especially since you have that Citrus Park mall out there in Hillsborough," Collins said.
City officials have decided that the extension, which has been commonly refered to as the Linebaugh Avenue extension or the east-west connector road, will carry the name Forest Lakes Boulevard.
The existing part of Forest Lakes Boulevard that curves north to the Brooker Creek Preserve will be renamed Pine Avenue N.
Most of the extension will be two lanes wide with a speed limit of 45 or 50 mph, Collins said. The southern portion of Forest Lakes Boulevard will be expanded to four lanes as part of the project to accommodate traffic generated by a planned Wal-Mart Supercenter, nearby shopping centers and several large subdivisions in the area.
"They will find out that they should have made the whole road four lanes," said council member Ed Manny. "There is a lot of traffic that goes in that direction.
The new road will bisect the Tampa Bay Park of Commerce, a 400-acre commercial and industrial development. The road extension was proposed as part of the development. Because the industrial park has been virtually barren for years, the road project remained on the drawing boards.
"We just thought it would never happen," said Marie Dauphinais, Oldsmar planning administrator.
The industrial park was sold about a year ago, and the new owner, Harrod Properties, quickly landed a number of tenants for the park. One of the new tenants will be Uniprise, an entity of United-Health Group, which provides health care plans and insurance to more than 50-million Americans.
Uniprise announced earlier this year plans to build a 103,000-square-foot claims processing center with 690 employees. The extension will provide much-needed access for Uniprise and other companies interested in locating in the industrial park.
The recent boom at the industrial park is one of the main reasons the project is under way, Collins said.
"Those new businesses need that road," he said.
-- Ed Quioco can be reached at (727) 445-4183 or at email@example.com.
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