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Barriers slow store traffic on Starkey

It's hard to miss the barricades on Starkey Road, which is closed at the CSX railroad crossing while railroad crews make repairs on the track.

Some merchants south of Ulmerton are afraid the barriers are scaring customers away.

But surely there's a way around all the trouble, right? Not exactly.

Some drivers have forged alternate paths down Belcher Road only to be greeted by barricades surrounding a two-month-long Pinellas County project to repair a 48-inch water main.

Bill Vlahovich, who lives on Belcher Road, said he loops around town just to avoid the barricades, which block two lanes of traffic south of East Bay Drive.

"I can look out my front door at any time of the day and see the traffic just lined back," Vlahovich said.

Vlahovich said the congestion has caused several fender benders.

Lynda Foster, owner of Re-Uz-It consignment store, north of Bryan Dairy on Starkey, has battled the traffic on her street, too.

Her business is down 80 percent over the past week because customers don't want to deal with the barriers that block off the right lane near her store, she said.

"You have to jockey through all of the barricades," Foster said. "My business is terrible."

She has commiserated with other merchants. And even though the beauty shop down the street has kept regular appointments, almost every one is late, she said.

County officials said the barricades won't be around much longer because both projects are scheduled to wrap up within the next two weeks.