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Gandy work is topic of meeting

(ran C, NS, S, F editions of B)

The Florida Department of Transportation says Gandy Boulevard will need some major improvements to handle future traffic in the area.

Some South Tampa residents who live near the thoroughfare say that may be true, but the proposed improvements will reduce their property values, increase crime in their neighborhoods and generally hamper their lifestyles.

The Gandy Civic Association will give the road's neighbors a chance to voice their concerns and opposition to the project tonight at a public meeting at the group's Wyoming Avenue headquarters.

The group has invited state and local government officials as well as a DOT official to attend the 7:30 p.m. meeting.

The overall plan calls for improvements to Gandy Boulevard beginning east of the Fourth Street and Gandy Boulevard intersection in Pinellas County to the S Dale Mabry Highway and Gandy Boulevard intersection in Hillsborough County. The plan includes a multilane, controlled access highway with grade separations, interchanges and frontage roads.

Construction on improvements to the westbound lanes of the Gandy Bridge is scheduled to begin in early 1994, said Don Skelton, the DOT project engineer.

Eric Johnson, Gandy association president, said his group is opposed to two of the proposed plans, which include running the road through their neighborhood.

"First off we're talking an elevated highway 16 to 20 feet off the ground going through the neighborhood," Johnson said. "Normally when you have a highway like that, people who live near it see a decrease in their property values."

DOT spokeswoman Lee Royal said the department is simply studying the impact the proposed improvements would have on the community. She said in the future, DOT will hold a series of meetings with residents to hear their concerns about the project.

"We are more than happy and willing to work with any citizen who has a concern about our study," Royal said. "That is what it is for."

The meeting

The Gandy Civic Association has invited state and local officials to listen to concerns about the Gandy Boulevard project at a meeting at 7:30 tonight at the group's Wyoming Avenue headquarters.

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