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Last night at City Hall

Highland Avenue roundabout idea dropped by Largo City Commission

The city Tuesday night dropped a controversial roundabout from an overall plan to make Highland Avenue a more pedestrian-friendly roadway.

It's not the right spot for Largo's first roundabout, most city commissioners said during a work session at City Hall. Many were swayed by general community disdain for the traffic feature.

Roundabouts "can be wonderful things," said Mayor Pat Gerard this week. But this one, proposed at Rosery Road, is problematic.

"I haven't heard one person say they're in favor of it, except our staff," she said.

Residents bashed plans for the roundabout the first time they saw them at a public meeting this spring. A slew of letters to City Hall panning the traffic circle ensued, followed by a petition with more than 700 signatures from members and guests of St. Paul United Methodist Church.

Leaders at St. Paul worried that the roundabout would make a sometimes hectic traffic situation even more complex and perilous at their popular church.

Monthly, more than 5,000 members and guests, many of them youngsters and seniors, attend activities at the church's Christian Life Enrichment Center. And on Sundays, when more than 1,000 people show up for services and Sunday school, the church hires police officers to direct traffic.

All in all, city leaders spent about an hour discussing details of the $6 million proposal to revamp Highland.

With a lean budget in mind, a few commissioners wondered if funds for the project should be spent now or for Highland at all.

"I'm just not sure this project should be done at this time," Vice Mayor Gigi Arntzen said at the work session.

Some of the money targeted for the project is funded by sales tax, gas tax and impact fees — a few areas hit hard by the current economic slump, Commissioner Robert Murray said.

He suggested the city delay discussion of the plan until after budget details have been worked out.

As far as construction impact fees, city staff said there is a set region and time frame where those funds need to be spent. And this project meets those needs.

City leaders ultimately decided to move forward with the project for now. The plan's future depends on whether Largo gets jurisdiction of the road, which is currently controlled by the county.

If everything goes as planned, construction could begin next spring, City Engineer Leland Dicus said.

Fast facts

Highland Avenue project

Price: $6 million

Features

• 6-foot sidewalks

• 10-foot urban trail on Highland

• 8-foot trail on Rosery Road

• Bike trail

• Landscaping

• Medians at major intersections

• Two revamped traffic signals

Highland Avenue roundabout idea dropped by Largo City Commission 06/09/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 10:38pm]

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