Work to replace the aging rubber CSX Railroad cross ties at crossings throughout Pinellas County from Clearwater to St. Petersburg will begin soon, requiring weeklong road closures at some locations. This work, which involves 25 crossings, has been planned for quite some time, although solid dates to begin the first of three weeks of work beginning this week in St. Petersburg, Largo and Clearwater have been solidified only recently.
CSX will remove the old ties, replace the crossings, and then clean up stone piles and other debris. Each of the construction locations will close for a minimum of three days with some closures lasting a week. The first phase of full closures of the roadway at the railroad crossings will begin this week, affecting the following roads:
In Largo, Rosery Road NW will be closed Monday through Friday along Clearwater/Largo Road with detour routes via Belleair Road or West Bay Drive. Also in Largo, Eighth Avenue SE from Seminole Boulevard to Central Park Drive will close Monday through Friday with detour via East Bay Drive or Ulmerton Road. This closure may affect Largo Middle School during the last week of classes, and the city staff is scrambling to prepare in case CSX can't grant their request that the work be postponed until the day after school ends (June 6).
This type of railroad repair work is done in progressive sequence, with a work train moving down the tracks from one crossing to the next, so taking one particular crossing out of sequence would amount to a major logistical issue for CSX. Brian Usher, Largo's director of public works, says he understands the challenge for CSX, and he's hoping for the best but planning for the worst. The biggest challenge is going to be rerouting children who walk to and from school.
"We have a hundred kids used to walking down the east side of the tracks to get to school but I have no commitment from CSX that they will alter their current schedule as of yet, so it's basically going to be one of those situations where we might have three days of confusion." Usher said.
In the meantime, Usher says he has contacted the school and suggested that notifications go out to parents and that teachers move their vehicles to the rear of the building that week to provide room for a turn-around. Usher is also working with the Largo Police Department and the school's crossing guards to map out an alternate pedestrian route for students and parents.
Other crossings that will be affected in the first week of work are 46th Avenue N between 40th Street and 37th Street in St. Petersburg Monday through Thursday, with alternative route via 49th Street, 37th Street, 38th Avenue N or 54th Avenue N. In Lealman, the crossing at 52nd Avenue N at Duval Circle N to Main Street N will be closed Monday through Thursday.
In Clearwater, Howard Street and Woodlawn Street are scheduled to be closed, both from S Myrtle Avenue to Scranton Avenue through Tuesday, with detour routes via Belleair Road, Jeffords Street and Pinellas Street. The schedule is subject to change at any time and we'll update you on the scheduled closings lined up for weeks two and three of the project.
Be alert to flaggers in the road and lane closures along Gulfport Boulevard S this week as underground repair work takes place Monday and Tuesday.
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