Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

No more left turns on dangerous stretch of U.S. 19

CLEARWATER — Officials have spent six years and hundreds of millions of dollars so far to transform U.S. 19 into a limited-access highway through mid Pinellas County.

But now that commuters are shooting across a series of new overpasses, the highway-speed traffic on the road is making it tricky and dangerous to make a left turn across U.S. 19 along the stretch around Enterprise Road.

That's why state highway officials said Wednesday that they intend to close all five openings in U.S. 19's median between Countryside Boulevard and Sunset Point Road.

They say it's no longer safe for southbound drivers to turn left and cross against the traffic on northbound U.S. 19 to get to businesses on the east side of the road. Instead, southbound drivers will have to continue on to Sunset Point Road and make a U-turn into the northbound lanes to reach those businesses.

From January to May, the Florida Department of Transportation counted 35 crashes along that stretch of U.S. 19, including 18 collisions at Enterprise Road alone. For drivers trying to turn left, "there are no gaps in the traffic flow," said Scott Collister, the DOT's local director of transportation development.

He told local officials on the Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organization that the DOT will soon close the median openings at McCormick Drive, the Cypress Point Shopping Center and leading into Dimmit Chevrolet.

Some officials wondered how that would affect businesses. "Things are slow right now," said Belleair Bluffs Mayor Chris Arbutine.

Collister responded that on average, it will take only one more minute for southbound drivers to get to locations on the east side of U.S. 19.

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard called that stretch of road "significantly dangerous." Besides the crashes that the DOT counted, Hibbard often sees near-misses there.

"You're really a victim of your own success with the overpasses," Hibbard told highway officials.

Pinellas County Commissioner Ronnie Duncan said he already sees southbound U.S. 19 drivers skip past those median openings and make U-turns at Sunset Point Road. "I'm not sure this is a terrible departure from what people are already doing," he said.

After the median openings are closed, the DOT will start designing the larger part of the $5.6-million project earmarked for U.S. 19 in that area.

They intend to build a frontage road alongside the northbound section to help cars merge onto the fast highway from businesses' driveways. That road will run from McCormick Drive north to First Avenue N, Collister said.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4160.

>>Fast facts

U.S. 19 overpasses

Recently built: Drew Street (2005), Coachman and Sunset Point roads (2007)

Under construction: 110th and 118th avenues (through 2009)

To be built: Belleair Road (beginning 2009-2010), Seville Boulevard (beginning 2010-2011)

Postponed: Enterprise Road, pushed back to 2016

No more left turns on dangerous stretch of U.S. 19 09/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 2:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.