LARGO — Visitors to Largo Mall this week have been greeted by the traditional trappings of the holiday season. Red and green tinsel hangs from light posts. Red and green wreaths adorn the walls of Albertsons.
But there is a different color scheme threatening to take over the 2011 holiday season in the Largo area: orange and white. As in orange construction cones and white signs alerting drivers of road work ahead. Drivers trying to get to Largo Mall encounter a sea of orange and white on Ulmerton Road, which is in the midst of a two-year widening project.
There are four major projects under way on Largo area roads, and drivers who are new to the area, or who are just in town for the holidays, could find themselves navigating through several of them in the same trip across town. Here's a roundup of the projects, where they stand and when they should be done:
• Ulmerton Road from 119th Street to the Seminole Bypass Canal (just east of Largo Mall). This $16.9 million state project will take the east-west thoroughfare from four lanes to six lanes, and it will take quite a while to do it, thanks to several utility upgrades for Largo, Clearwater and Pinellas County. The project started in August and is scheduled to be done in the fall of 2013. So the drive to the Largo Mall could take a bit longer for at least one more holiday season after this one, and potentially two, if weather causes any delays.
• Alt. U.S. 19/Missouri Avenue from East Bay Drive to State Road 60. The Florida Department of Transportation is repaving roughly 3 miles of this north-south road between Clearwater and Largo, at a cost of $2.9 million, which also includes new sidewalks and drainage pipes. Work started in September and is expected to finish in summer 2012.
• Belcher Road from East Bay Drive to Bryan Dairy Road. Pinellas County is spending $7.5 million to replace an old 48-inch water main under Belcher. The project was supposed to be done Dec. 21 but will likely continue until February, according to Tim Closterman, a Pinellas County spokesman. The delay was caused by the big water main break under Belcher last Christmas weekend that affected water service for about 100,000 people in Pinellas County and cost the county $571,000 to repair.
• Bryan Dairy Road, from 72nd Street to Starkey Road. This $11.1 million county project should be done before Christmas 2012. The east-west road will expand from four lanes to six, with new sidewalks, curbs and gutters. Work started May 26 and should be done by Nov. 30, 2012.
Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or firstname.lastname@example.org.