The construction project on Ulmerton Road has prompted some readers to wonder if overpasses are in the long-range plan for the super-busy thoroughfare.
Reader Keith Walter wrote: "Hi, Doc. I live in Seminole and have to travel to Tampa and back regularly. It seems Pinellas County has made many improvements over the years with roads going north and south. But there is no interstate, freeway or toll road that runs from west to east. Are there any plans to build overpasses on Ulmerton Road, Bryan Dairy or Park Boulevard?"
We checked with the Florida Department of Transportation's Kris Carson, who told us that there are no plans in the works for a flyover on Ulmerton Road. But there are plans for a flyover on State Road 686, which will carry traffic over Ulmerton at the Sunshine Speedway property. State Road 686 is an east-west curveball of a road, by the way, winding through mid Pinellas from Gulf Boulevard in Belleair Beach and changing names from West Bay Drive to East Bay Drive, to Roosevelt Boulevard, then merging with Ulmerton. And we wonder why tourists get lost traveling from the airport to the beaches.
There are also plans for 118th Avenue to go over intersections at 49th Street and 43rd Street. "Upon completion of all stages of construction, traffic from U.S. 19 will be able to move eastbound along 118th Avenue without a stop condition all the way to I-275," Carson said.
belleair beach causeway
Bridge's construction uses innovative method
Progress on the Belleair Beach Causeway replacement is on schedule to be completed two years from now — spring 2010. Meg Korakis of Pinellas County's Communication Department told us last week that the project is the first of its kind in Florida. Workers are using an innovative method that has been used on the construction of one other bridge in the country. That one is in Iowa and it's made of steel. The Belleair Bridge is being made from concrete. Korakis said that unlike steel, concrete can withstand only small amounts of tensile stress without damage, so connecting the span pieces is a delicate process.
Here's how it works: Sections of the superstructure will be manufactured in a prefabrication area, then each span piece will be concreted directly against the preceding one.
After it's had time to harden, it is moved forward by a mammoth hydraulic crank-jack system at a pressure of 33,000 psi.
If your kids are construction fans, the project is a pretty cool one to observe. On a sightseeing trip last week to view the progress, the Doc was mesmerized by the spectacle.
Planned road work around the county this week:
GULFPORT: Bear Creek Bridge (Mango Avenue S at Bamboo Drive S), delays and lane closures — bridge replacement project.
LARGO: 83rd Street at 79th Avenue N — sidewalk replacement; 95th Street N and Alston Drive —temporary delays due to storm drainage repairs.
SEMINOLE: 113th Street N (106th Avenue N to 110th Avenue N) — sidewalk repairs; Lake Seminole bridge (97th Street N and Seminole Boulevard) east and westbound lane closures and temporary delays — painting center walls of bridge.
TIERRA VERDE: Pinellas Bayway (Westshore Boulevard S to Fort De Soto Park), temporary delays — trucks entering or leaving the roadway and shoulder work.
Please e-mail Dr. Delay at email@example.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.