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Largo's Highland Avenue has a facelift in its future

LARGO — Highland Avenue is getting ready to undergo a facelift from East Bay Drive to Belleair Road.

The two-lane road that brings motorists past a modern City Hall and Police Department complex has no curbs or gutters, no sidewalks and no beauty.

But two plans presented to the Largo City Commission this month would change all that.

"The objective is to enhance pedestrian safety and improve accessibility to community designations," said Leland Dicus, a city engineer.

Plan A calls for a complete reconstruction of Highland Avenue with curbs and gutters. It would become a two-lane road divided with landscaped medians and a continuous left turn lane.

Six-foot wide sidewalks would line both sides of the road and a 10-foot-wide trail would run south of Rosery Road. There would be landscaped parkways and parking would be relocated outside the road's right of way.

The estimated cost is $7.16-million.

Plan B is like the first one, except the median would not be continuous and it would cost $5.61-million.

Both plans call for a regional treatment facility for stormwater runoff and a roundabout at the Rosery intersection.

Roundabouts are said to reduce injury crashes by 73 percent and all traffic crashes by 51 percent, a city consultant said.

"I love the idea of a roundabout," said Mayor Pat Gerard.

A public forum on the proposed designs will be held in late January and the commission could vote on a final plan in the spring.

Construction could begin in 2010.

An effort to bury power lines also was discussed but likely would be cost prohibitive at $4.1-million. City staff members are going to inquire about the cost of burying only the power lines that run east and west along the road.

Another issue is that Highland Avenue is a Pinellas County road. Largo is in negotiations with the county to get possession of the section from East Bay Drive to Belleair Road that runs through the city.

Dicus said the county has said it would take $2-million to bring the road up to standard, but Largo has projected it would take $4-million. Dicus said the two sides are discussing the matter and he thinks it is something they will resolve.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4174.

Largo's Highland Avenue has a facelift in its future 12/20/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 22, 2008 11:45am]
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