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Ask Dr. Delay: Frontage road, median work on U.S. 19 in Clearwater

Reader Denny Smith wrote the Doc asking for an update on the construction doings on U.S. 19 in Clearwater. He wrote: "Northbound U.S. 19 south of Enterprise Road has been a mess for many months, but it does not appear that any work is being done. What is the holdup? When is the work supposed to be completed?"

We asked Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation for an update. Carson told us the details of the project include constructing a northbound frontage road between McCormick Drive and First Avenue, removing the existing temporary medians and replacing them with permanent concrete medians, and resurfacing U.S. 19 between McCormick Drive and Enterprise Road.

"This project should be complete by early 2012. The work right now is mainly lime rock base for the frontage road around McCormick," Carson said.

North Bay Trail project's process questioned

Readers have noticed that the expansion of the federally funded North Bay Trail project on First Street NE in St. Petersburg seems to have stopped, and several questions have been coming in. Folks are wondering why the bridge at 54th Avenue N has a lane closed off and no apparent work has been done for several months, why the trail is on the east side of the street rather than the west side, and why a center line was added, making it look, as one reader described it, "like a ministreet. I would think people would have the necessary sense to be able to move over without having a stripe down the middle of the sidewalk."

We asked Mike Frederick, the city's manager of neighborhood transportation, to fill us in. Frederick agreed that the trail, which is scheduled to be completed this fall, can be described as looking like a wide sidewalk on the east side of First Street NE from 30th Avenue N to 78th Avenue N.

"The trail work is an extension of the downtown trail to the Rio Vista Trail north of 78th Avenue N. The east side of the street was chosen for the North Bay Trail due to its overall ability to accommodate a trail facility for pedestrians and recreational cyclists. There are a few sections, including the area near 47th Avenue NE, where right-of-way constraints prohibited construction of a full-width trail facility. In those sections the city is continuing to work with adjacent property owners to look for ways to continue a path and this will take some additional time; in the meantime, it's our duty to inform users through the trail signage the areas where the full trail has ended and begins again," Frederick said.

The bridge over the 54th Avenue N canal is in the process of being moved because of conflicts with a Progress Energy power pole as well as visibility concerns for the driveways immediately north of the canal. The move has required coordination with Progress Energy and is anticipated to happen this week. A replacement canal crossing is being designed with construction on that to be completed by the end of the year.

Frederick says that the centerline for the trail was necessary because it is a trail and not simply a sidewalk and is designed to accommodate a variety of traffic, including pedestrians, recreational cyclists, families with strollers, etc. The centerline is a national design requirement at intersections with the idea that trail users move to the right as they approach the intersections so they can cross safely.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at [email protected] to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity. Follow the Doc on Facebook by searching for Ask Dr. Delay.

Ask Dr. Delay: Frontage road, median work on U.S. 19 in Clearwater 08/06/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 6, 2011 4:31am]
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