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Largo may bypass the state on its road study

The lack of a definitive plan for improving West Bay Drive is holding up downtown redevelopment in Largo, city commissioners said Tuesday. But commissioners couldn't decide whether to wait for the state Department of Transportation to finish two studies of the east/west corridor or forge ahead with a study of their own.

"Any plan has to be transportation oriented," said Commissioner Jim Miles. "If not, you're hamstrung by transportation."

Commissioners say that West Bay Drive's lanes through the downtown area are too narrow and too few.

They want the state to remove the Alt. U.S. 19 designation from the roadway and allow the city to widen the road at strategic intersections, especially Fourth Street SW.

Mayor George McGough said the city does not have time to wait on the state transportation studies.

Commissioners will consider hiring a consultant to help formulate a downtown redevelopment plan at a meeting Feb. 20.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, commissioners told City Manager Stephen Bonczek to make changes in a plan for spending $49-million the city is expected to receive in sales tax during the next 10 years.

Commissioners said they want more money devoted to transportation and drainage projects and less for recreation.