The heavy equipment felling trees in the Gandy Boulevard median signals the beginning of a yearslong, multimillion dollar project designed to improve traffic flow along one of Pinellas County's busiest roads.
The project is the first phase in a larger plan to transform the entire stretch of Gandy from just east of Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg to just west of U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park.
This first phase, estimated to cost about $83 million, will focus on the section from Fourth to Interstate 275.
When this phase is completed, Gandy will have an elevated six-lane roadway (three in each direction) from I-275 to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. It will be four lanes (two in each direction) from King Street to east of Fourth Street. Overpasses will be built at Fourth, Roosevelt Boulevard, King and 94th Avenue. A frontage road system will parallel the main roadway.
The project will include pedestrian and bicycle trails along the frontage road, traffic signals, lighting, an intelligent transportation system and landscaping. An intelligent transportation system includes such things as informational signs although it's unclear whether they will be part of the Gandy improvements.
Temporary lane closures will be necessary along Gandy, King, Roosevelt and Fourth. Most closures will be done during off-peak hours. During peak hours, three lanes in each direction will be available between I-275 and King and two lanes in each direction from King to east of Fourth Street. Temporary detours will also be necessary, however most detours will occur during weekend hours.
The state Department of Transportation will host a construction open house this summer to present more information about the project to the public.
Work is scheduled to finish in 2017.
The second phase, west from I-275 to the end of the Gandy overpass over U.S. 19, has not been funded. Construction is not scheduled to begin until 2021.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes on Twitter.