CLEARWATER – Clearwater City Council members have agreed to authorize an agreement with Forward Pinellas to accept a Complete Streets planning grant to study a concept plan for one of the city’s major downtown thoroughfares.
During its regular meeting on July 20 at city hall, the council unanimously approved the $50,000 grant, which will be matched by the city through direct funding and in-kind services.
The study is expected to lay out guidelines for corridor design improvements from North Osceola Avenue to U.S. 19, utilizing Complete Streets principles, which are designed to make streets safe and accessible for all users and modes of transport, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users.
In October, Forward Pinellas asked local governments to submit applications for funding such projects and Clearwater was selected.
“The Forward Pinellas Complete Streets Program provides annual, competitive funding for both the planning and construction of Complete Streets projects countywide,” said planning director Michael Delk.
“The city’s primary goal for this project was to create a Complete Streets concept that will enhance safety, mobility, and accessibility while considering character criteria of Drew Street corridor,” he continued.
According to Delk, the project has strong support from the community, including residents, businesses and schools.
The estimated cost of Complete Streets conceptual planning for the 4.2-mile project is $100,000.
Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos voiced concerns over the project during the council’s work session on July 17, citing worries that the plan might eventually call for the elimination of lanes on Drew Street.
“Council, as I had indicated in the work session, I will be voting for this,” Cretekos said. “But if this comes back with two lanes of traffic on Drew Street, no matter whether you call it Complete Streets or safe streets or smart cities, I have great hesitations over limiting the number of vehicles on that major thoroughfare.”