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Ulmerton Road project is complicated and lengthy

This is a view looking east on Ulmerton Road toward the intersection of Seminole Boulevard last week.
Frustrated drivers no doubt think the construction is going nowhere — fast. But it continues. 

JIM DAMASKE | Times

This is a view looking east on Ulmerton Road toward the intersection of Seminole Boulevard last week. Frustrated drivers no doubt think the construction is going nowhere — fast. But it continues. 

What's happening on Ulmerton Road in Seminole/Largo? They have blocked off sections of the road for the past year. They did a little work and then left. A few pieces of machinery are there, but there's no one to run them. It just sits and causes traffic and business problems. Can you find out what is going to happen and when?

Dr. Jim Bardsley

Let's start with an overview of the work on Ulmerton Road, which began a year ago. The $16.9 million project will widen Ulmerton between 119th Street and the Seminole Bypass Canal and when completed, Ulmerton will have three eastbound and three westbound lanes. The major intersections of Ridge Road/113th Avenue and Seminole Boulevard will also be widened with the addition of turn lanes.

There will be some changes in median access, with permanent closure of the medians at Palm Avenue, Block Drive, Lowe's west entrance and 10th Street SE. Remaining medians will be changed from full median openings to left-turn only. Those include medians allowing turns from Ulmerton Road into Oak Ridge Apartments, Lowe's east entrance, the west entrance of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Ridge Road west of the 113th intersection, Railroad Avenue and 117th Street.

The old traffic poles and signals will be replaced with new hurricane-resistant poles at the intersections of Ridge Road/113th Avenue S, Seminole Boulevard, 101st Street, and at the entrance to Largo Mall.

Kris Carson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, told us that the contractor has up to six crews and additional subcontractors working on the project, but because of its scope, which extends from Ridge Road east of 101st Street, there's work happening on connecting streets, so it's not as apparent to passers-by.

And there are other factors. Weather delays may be the biggest factor for perceived lack of work recently, with Tropical Storm Debby, a really wet July and Tropical Storm Isaac, Carson wrote in an email last week. And before work could begin in earnest, time was invested in dealing with the various unauthorized encroachments to the DOT's right-of-way that materialized over the years. These included everything from unauthorized fences, signs, curb stops and light posts, to irrigation equipment, decorative walls and landscaping, all of which had to be removed prior to construction.

Carson said crews have been working at night when lane closures are necessary, usually between 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., so though it may seem like nothing's happening during the day, plenty is being accomplished while most of us are sleeping.

Carson said that in the interest of speeding things along, the DOT has permitted the contractor to close multiple lanes at the major intersections on weekends. The good news is that the contractor is on schedule to complete the project on time. The not-so-great news is that we're talking the end of 2013.

Email Dr. Delay at [email protected] to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions or follow Dr. Delay on Twitter at @AskDrDelay.

Ulmerton Road project is complicated and lengthy 09/01/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 1, 2012 4:30am]
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