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Pasco commits $9.5 million to help state improve safety along U.S. 19 medians

DADE CITY — Pasco will pony up $9.5 million over the next two years to help jump-start the state's improvements to U.S. 19.

The money, approved by the County Commission on Tuesday, comes from Penny for Pasco funds. It will be used to close or channel medians from the Pinellas to Hernando county lines.

Channelized medians restrict cars from making left turns from side streets and driveways across U.S. 19 traffic. The state Department of Transportation has said cars attempting left turns from driveways along highway's edge are the cause of many accidents and traffic congestion.

Work could start by July.

The improvements are part of the state's larger effort to improve the highway. That includes continuous right-turn lanes, sidewalks, signal upgrades and median channelizations. The overall project is included in the state's five-year work plan.

"This can't get started soon enough," said Commissioner Ann Hildebrand.

In other business

Commissioners agreed to allow Pasco County residents called for jury duty free rides on the county buses from their homes to the courthouse and back. The request came from Clerk Paula O'Neil.

Because the buses are already running, officials had a hard time coming up with potential cost estimates of the free service. O'Neil plans to begin the service in April. She said she would submit figures showing how many people are using the service by July so commissioners can decide whether they want to continue subsidizing the program next fiscal year.

And a proposal to fine people whose parked cars block parts of the sidewalk was officially dead after a final public hearing Tuesday.

County regulations already prohibit parking on sidewalks. The regulations do not address, however, people who park in their private driveways but block the sidewalk in front of their homes.

Commissioners had concerns about enforcement and also questioned whether it was fair to people who live in homes built on smaller lots.

Commissioners did go forward with changing the ordinance, however, to set up a process for residents to request on-street parking in their neighborhoods.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco commits $9.5 million to help state improve safety along U.S. 19 medians 02/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 9:09pm]
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