LARGO — Trotter Road is one of the worst roads in Largo. The pavement is cracked and ragged along the edges. There are no curbs. The drainage is lousy or nonexistent.
What's more, it gets significantly more traffic than your typical two-lane residential road. It's a collector road for the residential neighborhood west of Taylor Lake in western Largo.
Largo officials are finally preparing to spend millions of dollars to give this notorious road a serious makeover. Preliminary plans call for adding Largo's first traffic circle to Trotter, which the city calls a "failed roadway."
Plans for the street aren't final. Construction work isn't even slated to start until 2015. But Largo commissioners expressed support for the project when they learned details at a work session last week.
"As a person who's been down Trotter Road many, many, many times . . . that road's a mess," said Commissioner Curtis Holmes. "On a bicycle, Trotter Road just beats you to death. Those sidewalks are so bad, you actually have to ride in the road. That gets a little troubling."
Staffers are planning a $3.35 million project to completely redo nearly a mile of the road between Eighth Avenue SW and the city limits at Hillsdale Avenue.
The road is to be reconstructed into two separate, 10-foot-wide lanes divided by a narrow, planted median. There will be 4-foot-wide bike lanes along the sides. Deep ditches alongside parts of the road will be replaced by an upgraded drainage system.
The city intends to plant low-growing trees or plants along the shoulders, separating the traffic from improved sidewalks that will be added.
For commissioners, the most controversial part of the plan is the traffic circle, which would be installed at the intersection of Trotter Road and Dryer Avenue. The circle would be intended to move traffic through that intersection more quickly. It's now a four-way stop, said Largo strategic planner Christine McLachland.
A number of residential neighborhoods in Clearwater, such as Morningside Estates and Skycrest, have similar small traffic circles. These circles aren't as big as the Clearwater Beach Roundabout.
"I have a lot of reservations about the roundabout," said Commissioner Michael Smith, who wondered how safe it would be for drivers. "I've done some roundabouts … I'm 32 and I still have trouble getting on those, and I can see my 80-year-old grandmother out there trying to do one of these things — especially with all those trees — and clipping something."
City engineer Marcello Tavernari said feedback from neighbors along Trotter Road, including St. Patrick's Catholic Church, has been positive.
Actual construction won't start until 2015, because it must follow a major sewer expansion project in that area. The city has cobbled together $1.88 million for the construction work, using money from the county gas tax and local option sales tax and Largo's sewer fund
The city has another half-million dollars from transportation impact fees to pay for enhancements along the street such as trees and bike lanes.
However, officials say they'll need to raise nearly a million more dollars to complete the work.
Commissioner Woody Brown had questions about the road's speed limit, and Commissioner Jamie Robinson asked about the traffic circle's design.
But elected officials still favor overhauling the road.
"The people out there will be very happy with the improvements," Brown said.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.