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Final Belcher Road link to be done by 2007

Something that hasn't happened in a long time is about to take place in Palm Harbor.

A new road will be built from scratch.

Construction on the third and final phase of Belcher Road will begin later this month, according to county officials.

The County Commission recently approved a $12.3-million contract with David Nelson Construction Co. to extend Belcher the 2 miles north from Alderman Road to Klosterman Road.

Construction on the Palm Harbor portion of Belcher Road began in 1995. A second phase was built in 2000, said Jim Collins, division engineer for Pinellas County public works.

The third and final phase of the road has been a long time coming for many residents of Fox Chase Townhomes, the neighborhood most affected by the new road. North of Alderman, the extension will curve slightly to the east, then head north from there.

The county began having public forums about the project more than two years ago.

A chief concern for residents: access to the pool and play area. When constructed, the road will run across Fox Hunt Drive, which most residents use to get to the pool. Residents unsuccessfully petitioned the county for a pedestrian overpass. Without the overpass, residents say they will have to take a longer alternate route to the pool.

"I don't know how we'll get to the pool," said LeeAnna Golden, 59, an accounting specialist. "That's why I'm leaving, and I know others who are too."

Golden put her townhome up for sale months ago.

The northern portion of Belcher Road carries almost 30,000 cars a day, said Gina Harvey of the Pinellas County Planning Department.

"Just like the previous segments, it's going to help relieve some traffic on U.S. 19," Collins said.

The extension is estimated to be complete in the spring 2007.