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New Byran Dairy project on the way

The extension from 66th Street N to U.S. 19 will save motorists time, officials say. But drivers can expect delays.

A new overpass and a new stretch of Bryan Dairy Road from 66th Street N to U.S. 19 will give motorists something to look forward to: 2 miles of pavement free of traffic lights.

If all goes as planned, motorists driving east on Bryan Dairy two years from now will pass through a traffic signal at 72nd Street N. They won't won't see another light until they reach U.S. 19.

They will move "a lot quicker and a lot safer," said Jim Collins, division engineer for Pinellas County. "That's going to be most efficient way to get east and west."

The $26.4-million project, which began Oct. 30, includes a new overpass at 66th Street, a traffic light at Bryan Dairy and U.S. 19 and the replacement of the pedestrian bridge at 62nd Street.

The new six-lane extension project also will provide a more direct route to Interstate 275 and is likely to ease traffic on Ulmerton Road and Park Street.

But motorists will have to survive a few traffic headaches as construction crews begin work on the western part of the project. At first, they will have to use already-congested alternative routes to try to avoid further delays.

The first delays will begin appearing in about two months, as motorists are likely to experience slower traffic and some lane closures. They also can expect to encounter construction workers directing them through the construction on Bryan Dairy near 66th Street.

"They'll get a little bit of a (slowdown), but there won't be any major lane closures on Bryan Dairy," said Scott Woss, project manager with Parsons and Brinckerhoff, a consulting firm.

Now, drivers headed east or west on Bryan Dairy have few options to avoid delays. They can take Belcher Road south to Park Boulevard or north to Ulmerton Road.

By June, motorists again will feel the construction crunch as crews lift beams to set the overpass. Much of that work will occur after 9 p.m. The pedestrian walk will be constructed in the final stages of the plan.

Financed by the Penny for Pinellas sales tax, the new road is scheduled for completion in June 2002. With the exception of weather delays or other unforeseen troubles, Cone & Graham Inc. will be fined more than $2,200 for each day the project is delayed beyond that date, Collins said.