When are they really going to start work on Ulmerton Road? I see lights on at night every now and then, but when I look there seems to be only a couple of people walking around. I never see anyone during the day. There are a couple of big machines, but no one is running them. What gives?
Dr. Jim Bardsley, Madeira Beach
Judging by the Doc's inbox, regular users of Ulmerton Road have long grown weary of the ongoing construction. We asked Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation to give us an update on both Ulmerton projects (first, work between 119th Street and the Seminole Bypass Canal and second, work between the Seminole Bypass Canal and El Centro Boulevard/Ranchero Boulevard).
Carson says work on the section of Ulmerton from 119th to the Seminole Bypass Canal is on schedule. The project, which will widen the road from four lanes to six, is in the process of switching traffic into a new phase. The westbound section from approximately Seminole Boulevard to the west was switched last week, moving all traffic to the north, as westbound traffic is on the new construction side. The widening of Ridge Road and Seminole Boulevard is on schedule, according to Carson, and the recent traffic switch will enable workers to complete work on the opposite side of the road, starting with underground work followed by the surface-level road work. The 1.5-mile improvement was estimated to cost $17 million and is scheduled to be finished in early 2014.
The section of Ulmerton Road from the Seminole Bypass Canal to El Centro Boulevard /Ranchero Boulevard should finish the following year, sometime toward the end of 2015. Carson says the contractor is working on the south side of the road completing underground work, including utility work (water, sewer) and storm drain installation. The pond in the middle of the project on the south side of Ulmerton is complete and the next step is to construct the pond at the far west end.
Can you report how much money is being spent and by what jurisdiction on the palm trees that now line the causeway leading to the Sunshine Skyway bridge? They look great, but out of place in a time when calls for reduced spending are frequently met by threats that any reduction will result in fewer police, firefighters, teachers, etc.
The state DOT recently planted 547 palm trees and in addition, cleared the Australian pines that have long been in the area. The cost, which includes maintenance of traffic during the landscaping operation, was $771,297. DOT spokesperson Kris Carson told us this expenditure is in line with state law, which allows for 1.5 percent of the amount contracted for construction projects to be used for the purchase of plant materials.
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