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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dunedin vetoes grant for bike lanes



DUNEDIN -- The city has slammed the brakes on a contentious plan to paint bike lanes along Pinehurst Road.

The Dunedin City Commission voted 3-2 last week to reject a $266,000 federal Safe Routes to School grant that would have funded the project, along with $234,000 in Penny for Pinellas taxes. The decision puts to rest months of debate over attempts to extend bicyclist safety measures along the corridor.

The money will be returned to the Florida Department of Transportation ahead of the Dec. 5 deadline that FDOT gave city officials to come up with a plan for the state grant. The funds were initially earmarked for another bike safety project that was shot down by residents in July. FDOT told Dunedin officials they couldn't use the grant for a similar project in another part of the city, so Dunedin had two options: Build the bike lanes or give the money back.

The debate split the five-member panel. Two commissioners pushed for accepting the free money in hopes of encouraging safety. Two others said they doubted schoolchildren would use the lanes or that residents realized the proposal meant yet another invasive construction project on their street. Read the full story here.

In the end, Mayor Dave Eggers (who last week supported the Pinehurst proposal during a workshop on Dunedin's bicycle connectivity master plan) broke the tie. He said he was worried that officials didn't have time to poll residents by the Dec. 5 deadline or that the lanes would go unused. He also said he's not keen on accepting federal dollars in this economy.

Eggers, however, said he still believes in the city's master plan to eventually connect all the city's parks, schools, recreation facilities, waterfront, downtown and other areas to the Pinellas Trail via dedicated bicycle lanes, sidewalks and multi-use paths.

"Whatever we do, we need to have a lot more outreach to get folks turned on about bicycles," he said, later adding: "If it's important enough to do, we'll find the money to do it."

To see video of Thursday's discussion, click here. Scroll down to the third item under "Old Business."

-- Keyonna Summers, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Monday, December 12, 2011 2:30pm]


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