1. Transportation

Dr. Delay: U.S. 19 bridge over Gulf-to-Bay to be longer, wider

Reader Barbara Coleman dropped the Doc a note recently to ask for an update on plans for the interchange at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard (State Road 60) and U.S. 19. The juncture is scheduled to be completely replaced.

Here are the details: The two traffic signals on U.S. 19 between Whitney Road and Gulf-to-Bay will be replaced with new interchanges at Belleair Road and Seville Boulevard.

"The elimination of traffic signals in this project will create signal-free travel from 49th Street to Sunset Point Road in Pinellas County. Motorists will still be able to have easy access to local businesses with the addition of frontage roads next to U.S. 19," said Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation.

Work, which began in 2009, has so far been dedicated primarily to utility relocation and drainage work. The contractor is now building the frontage roads.

Carson told us the existing 200-foot-long, five-lane bridge at U.S. 19 over Gulf-to-Bay will be replaced with one that will be about 600 feet long and have seven lanes — three southbound and four northbound. The fourth lane will be for the new U.S. 19 entrance ramp north of Seville Boulevard.

The bridge will be built in phases starting with the southbound side. Carson said we will start to see preparations for the first phase in the spring. That will include shifting two northbound and two southbound lanes east and removing several feet of the west side of the existing bridge to make room for workers and equipment.

The project is on schedule to wrap up toward the end of 2014.

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