Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Keystone Road widening crawls forward

TARPON SPRINGS — A gallon of gas cost just 63 cents and the average new car sold for about $5,700 when Shirley Muller first heard about a county vision to widen Keystone Road.

Thirty years later and the winding, two-lane road hasn't changed a bit, except there are far more cars on it, Muller said.

"I don't think it's ever going to happen in our lifetime," said Muller, 65, who lives on Old Keystone, about 3 miles east of the planned improvements.

But county officials say they're coming ever closer to making the dream a reality.

"We're hoping to be in construction by the end of next year," said Pete Yauch, the county's director of roads and transportation.

The project, envisioned by county officials in the late 1970s, was promised to residents when they voted to extend the Penny for Pinellas sales tax in 1997.

Since then, the $18-million price tag has jumped to $78-million.

"The overall cost of construction has skyrocketed," Yauch said. "That's the biggest cause of the price increase."

Other causes include design changes that require retaining walls in some areas to protect the roadway from erosion of adjacent sandy dunes and the cost of temporary roadway construction to keep traffic flowing while the new road is built, Yauch said.

With the economic downturn, construction bids have been coming in lower than expected on some projects, Yauch said.

"We're hoping that trend is going to continue as we get into construction here," he said.

That $78-million number does not, however, include buying the property needed to widen the road.

The county started buying rights of way about nine months ago, but has acquired only about half of the 80 parcels needed for the expansion, Yauch said. County officials have budgeted another $2.4-million for land.

The project includes widening a 3.2-mile stretch of Keystone, between U.S. 19 and East Lake Road. It also includes an extension of the Pinellas Trail from its northern end at U.S. 19, along the north side of Keystone Road, to a 4-mile unconnected strip of trail on East Lake Road that goes south to John Chesnut Sr. Park.

The design is for a four-lane, divided road with a wide median that would allow future widening to six lanes if necessary.

The road is rated at F level of service, which should improve to a C after construction, Yauch said.

The project has faced several delays. Most recently, construction was to begin in 2006. But it was hung up as the design was modified to plan for future expansion, curb costs and deal with the challenges of the sandy, hilly terrain.

Once construction begins, the project should take about 18 months, county officials said.

Rita Farlow can be reached at or (727) 445-4162.

Keystone Road widening crawls forward 12/08/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  2. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery


    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want


    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]
  4. WATCH: Heroic Hooters manager helps two sheriff's deputies subdue unruly customer


    BRANDON — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office praised a heroic Hooters Restaurant manager Wednesday for coming to the aid of two deputies struggling to subdue an unruly customer.

    It took two deputies and a Hooter's manager to get control of Ashton B. Toney after he threatened to kill an employee who refused to serve him alcohol at a Hooter's in Brandon, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.
[Booking photo from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]