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Clearwater’s Old Coachman Road lives up to its name. At least the ‘old’ part

Pinellas County is aware of the ongoing traffic congestion at the NE Coachman Road intersection and thinks it’s time to fix it.

CLEARWATER — If you have traveled through Clearwater in the past year, you may have noticed construction at the four-way intersection of Old Coachman and NE Coachman roads.

You also may be familiar with the traffic that builds up there anytime someone wants to make a left turn. Vehicles behind the car turning left must wait for opposing traffic to clear, because each direction has only one through-lane.

With an average 11,500 vehicles traveling both roads daily, according to Pinellas County Public Works, you can imagine how long it may take to cross the intersection.

“It’s always been a very busy intersection, especially when you get spring training and baseball games going on," said Erin Lawson with the Transportation Division of Pinellas County Public Works. "With the configuration of it, you have railroad tracks going right through it, people are trying to make left turns, and it holds up traffic.”

The county began designing an improvement plan in 2017 to enhance safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. It would add left-turn lanes on each of the four intersecting roadways, add paved shoulders with bike lanes and sidewalks that connect to the Duke Energy Florida and Ream Wilson trails. It also would resurface the roadway.

The $1.4 million project is funded by the county’s Capital Improvement Program, which gets funds from the Penny for Pinellas tax that voters renewed in 2017.

Residents and commuters likely will welcome the project, but one reader just wants to know when it will be over.

Bob Brick emailed the Doc asking: “Any idea why this construction is taking forever, and days go by with little or no activity?

“I’m sure it is a complex corner, but really?”

Yes, really. And some of Brick’s observations are valid.

Pinellas County confirmed that the project was delayed in 2019 due to utility relocations and heavy rains, but the project is scheduled for completion in June.

The contractor has been working onsite since September 2019, with the exception of two weeks in December, according to Lawson. But primarily, workers have been stabilizing the roadway and preparing for paving.

“To the general public, I can see how it can look like there is not a lot of progress being made,” Lawson said. “The material has to be placed in lifts, and the contractor has to achieve proper compaction on each lift before proceeding, which can sometimes be slow-going.”

The milling and paving was scheduled to begin Sunday night, Lawson said, and the public should see more progress in the next few weeks.

She does not expect delays, but doesn’t rule them out, either. The CSX railway could be a complication, she said.

“They have to have a flagman on site since they own the right of way," Lawson said. "That’s the only thing that might preclude us from that date.”

Not far away, the county also is replacing the 93-year old bridge over Alligator Creek along Old Coachman Road and a new pedestrian bridge on the trail.

The Alligator Creek motorist bridge will be designed for a 75-year lifespan and will have wider, 11-foot lanes and up-to-date safety features.

The two projects combined cost about $4 million. The pedestrian bridge will be finished in a few weeks, according to Lawson, and the motorist bridge is projected for completion in February 2021, but could get pushed back.

Traffic and road closure updates:

Hernando County:

  • The utilities department will be performing scheduled sewer main improvements on Richard Drive in Weeki Wachee beginning Wednesday through Thursday. This work will require a single-lane closure on Richard Drive from Shoal Line Boulevard to Gettysburg Drive. All side streets will remain open to motorists and two-way traffic will be maintained, but expect traffic delays.
  • 24-hour lane closures continue for U.S. 98 new bridge construction of Suncoast Parkway 2, a half-mile on each side of Suncoast Parkway (State Road 589) through Saturday.
  • Intermittent lane closures for State Road 50 (Cortez Boulevard) widening from Windmere Road/Bronson Boulevard to U.S. 301 through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hillsborough County:

  • Interstate 275 operational improvements from west of State Road 60 (Exit 39) to Lois Avenue (Exit 40B) cause lane closures through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Interstate 4 resurfacing from County Road 579/Mango Road (Exit 10) to 50th Street (Exit 3) causes westbound lane closures Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • I-4 resurfacing from U.S. 301 (Exit 7) to CR 579/Mango Road (Exit 10) causes eastbound lane closures Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Interstate 75 northbound rest area reconstruction at mile marker 238. Rest area is closed until spring 2021
  • I-75 repaving from Manatee County Line to CR 672 (Big Bend Road) causes nightly lane closures through Friday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • U.S. 41 repaving from Bullfrog Creek to Denver Street causes intermittent lane closures through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
  • U.S. 92 (Hillsborough Avenue) repaving and drainage improvements from Nebraska Avenue to N 15th Street causes 24-hour lane closures through Saturday
  • State Road 60 (Kennedy Boulevard) traffic signal upgrades at Armenia Avenue and Brevard Avenue cause nightly lane closures through Friday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Work on SR 60 under I-275 causes lane closures through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • State Road 582 (Fowler Avenue) median improvements at 12th Street cause lane closures through Friday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • County Road 580 (Sam Allen Road) widening from east of Paul Buchman Highway (SR 39A) to Wilder Road causes lane closures with flagging operation through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • County Road 587 (West Shore Boulevard) at I-275 will be closed through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • County Road 672 (Big Bend Road) bridge replacement from Dickman Road to Wyandotte Road causes 24-hour lane closures through Saturday

Pasco County:

  • I-75 (Diverging Diamond Interchange) from just north of State Road 56 (Exit 275) to I-275 (Exit 274) will have southbound single-lane closures through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • I-75 median crossovers to the north and south of State Road 52 (mile marker 287 and mile marker 283.5) cause lane closures Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • State Road 54 widening from Curley Road to Morris Bridge Road causes intermittent nightly lane closures through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
  • SR 54 repaving from Old Millpond Drive to Little Road causes lane closures through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • SR 54 median improvements at Merchant Avenue cause lane closures through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • SR 56 (Diverging Diamond Interchange) entrance ramp onto southbound I-75 will have lane closure through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • SR 56 (Diverging Diamond Interchange) at I-75 will have lane closures through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Pinellas County:

  • Gateway Expressway (new tolled roadway system) updates:
    • Lane closures through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on I-275 from south of Gandy Boulevard (Exit 28) to Fourth Street N (Exit 32), I-275 northbound Exit 30 ramp to westbound State Road 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) and westbound 118th Avenue (County Road 296)
    • Lane closures through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on U.S. 19 frontage roads from 110th Avenue N to 126th Avenue N, on the SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) entrance ramp to the Bayside Bridge, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from State Road 688 (Ulmerton Road) to 49th Street N, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from 28th Street N to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N, and County Road 611 / 49th Street from 145th Avenue to Bayside Bridge
    • Lane closures through Saturday on 118th Avenue North from U.S. 19 to 34th Street North from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
    • Lane closures with flagging operations continue for State Road 699 (Gulf Boulevard) drainage improvements from First Avenue to Central Avenue through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • SR 688, State Road 586 and State Road 580 intersection lighting improvements cause intermittent lane closures through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at various locations:
    • SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) between Hamlin Boulevard in Largo and Feather Sound Drive in St. Petersburg
    • SR 586 (Curlew Road) between Alt 19/Bayshore in Dunedin and Tampa Road in Oldsmar
  • Eastbound lane closures on Thursday and Friday for Alt. U.S. 19 (Bay Pines Boulevard) bridge repairs over Long Bayou from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monique Welch is a staff writer at the Tampa Bay Times, and the voice behind Dr. Delay. Send your traffic concerns, questions and pictures of roadway troubles you spot in your travels around the Tampa Bay area to Follow @AskDrDelay.