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State paid for palm trees, plants near Howard Frankland Bridge

Recently, a large number of palm trees were planted on both sides of Interstate 275 just south of the Howard Frankland Bridge. I'm told that they cost from $5,000 to $8,000 per tree. I'd like to know who paid for them.

George Richardson

Here's what was planted: 58 Washington palm trees, seven Sylvester date palm trees, and 8,650 square feet of perennial peanut ground cover. The plantings were a city of St. Petersburg project in partnership with the state Department of Transportation. The plants were paid for by the DOT's highway landscape budget (per Florida statute, the agency is required to spend this amount on landscaping), according to Kris Carson of the DOT. The cost of the landscape project at the Howard Frankland Bridge site, including the palms, was $269,995.62.

When the work is finally finished at U.S. 19 and State Road 60, will traffic again be able to go from the east end of Druid Road across to Costco and Target?

The short answer is no.

Carson says that when the work is complete, drivers entering the southbound service road at Druid Road will not be able to turn left at Seville Boulevard. That's because of the new two-lane exit coming from southbound U.S. 19 just north of the Seville intersection. Those two exit lanes (one will be a through lane; the other a left-turn lane) will converge with the service road at the intersection. At that point, Carson says, the exit lanes and southbound service road lane will be side by side and separated by a barrier wall.

To get to Costco and Target, drivers will have to stay on the service road for another mile to the U-turn at Belleair Road. After making the U-turn, drivers will have to head north on the service road back to Seville Boulevard.

While heading a mile in the opposite direction sounds like a drag, Carson says there's an upside.

"Keep in mind that the drive down the service road is free-flow with no signals until they return to Seville on the northbound side.''

Barricade watch:

•The Folk Fest St. Pete, which began Friday, continues today with the closure of Central Avenue between 11th and 13th streets until approximately 7 p.m. In addition, parking restrictions will be in place along Baum Avenue N from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street to 13th Street.

• In Pinellas Park, westbound 110th Avenue is closed at 49th Street for about two weeks. The southbound curb lane of 49th Street will be closed daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday for the same period. Signs will mark detours for 49th Street traffic.

Email Dr. Delay at docdelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions or follow Dr. Delay on Twitter @AskDrDelay.

State paid for palm trees, plants near Howard Frankland Bridge 10/31/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 12:34pm]
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