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  1. Transportation

U.S. 19 to see changes in Pinellas

New study includes plans for bike lanes and pedestrian safety

CLEARWATER — The County Commission recently listened to a report about a re-evaluation of a study first completed in 1990 for U.S. 19 from Gandy Boulevard to Alt. U.S. 19 in Pasco County. The new study re-evaluates 3.8 miles of the project from 66th Avenue N to 118th Avenue N.

The new study includes plans for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, increased traffic volumes and Gandy Boulevard interchange improvements. The re-evaluation takes into account the need to support growth in the area due to the Gateway Expressway, Gateway area development and Gateway Centre Boulevard, as well as the need for safety enhancements.

Recommendations include turn lanes, ramp improvements and a traffic signal at Gateway Centre Boulevard if a study shows it is warranted. Pedestrian and bicycle accommodations being considered involve bike lanes, pedestrian median refuges and upgraded sidewalks and crosswalks.

Some of the potential methods of providing improvements include widening U.S. 19 from 66th Avenue N to 80th Avenue N, eight lanes from Gandy Boulevard to Interstate 275, as well as a fourth westbound lane from 40th Street N to 43rd Street N on Park Boulevard.

The Project Development and Environment Study re-evaluation is slated for completion this spring. Design work would begin this year. Construction is not funded.

County Commissioners Ken Welch and Karen Seel questioned plans to include bike lanes on U.S. 19. They asked if it would be safer to use sidewalks.

Whit Blanton, Forward Pinellas executive director, said more bicycle crashes occur on sidewalks than in bike lanes.

Welch asked if any data was available about bicycle crashes in bike lanes on Ulmerton Boulevard. Benson pointed out that if bike lanes were included on the U.S. 19 project they would be a different design.

"I have concerns with putting bike lanes on U.S. 19 period," Seel said.

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