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    Bridge, overpass funding approved

    The $2.5-million plan will provide a trail overpass for McMullen-Booth Road and a pedestrian bridge to Clearwater Beach.

    By CHRISTINA HEADRICK

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


    CLEARWATER -- To make trips easier and safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, city commissioners Thursday evening approved spending about $2.5-million in state grants to build an overpass over McMullen-Booth Road and another pedestrian bridge to the beach.

    The overpass at McMullen-Booth -- the first of its kind for Clearwater -- will help close a gap in the city's 4.5-mile East-West Trail, said Kevin Dunbar, the city's park's and recreation director. It will cross over six lanes of busy traffic between the Eddie C. Moore Complex and Del Oro Park.

    Dunbar expects that the 17-foot-high overpass, a $1.5-million project, will help publicize the existence of the little-known trail. "With people passing under it every day, it's going to bring the trail more notoriety," he said.

    The city also is working on plans to spend $300,000 for East-West Trail improvements between Carpenter Field on the west side of U.S. 19 all the way to Cliff Stephens Park on the east side of Clearwater.

    "The goal is eventually the trail goes all the way from the Safety Harbor Trail and Hillsborough County, out all the way to the beach," Dunbar said.

    At the beach, city staffers are exploring two options.

    They will consider building a $1-million pedestrian and bicyclist bridge just to the south of a small existing bridge between the west end of the Memorial Causeway and the island. It would be about 15 feet wide and more ornate than a traditional bridge, said City Engineer Mike Quillen.

    "We'd like to make it look interesting," Quillen said, and not just be steel and concrete. "That's one of the things we're going to work hard on now with the consultants."

    The other option is to add a pedestrian and bicyclist lane to the existing bridge instead of building the additional bridge to the south.

    The overpass and the bridge project will be completed by 2003, Quillen said.

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