CLEARWATER — Construction funding has been allocated for a roundabout at Alternate U.S. 19 and Florida Avenue in Palm Harbor as part of the Florida Department of Transportation’s work program.
Forward Pinellas approved the fiscal year 2020-2021 through FY 2024-25 Transportation Improvement Program on June 10. Adoption of the TIP by July 1 is required to allow the county to receive state and federal funding for priority transportation projects.
The TIP includes project descriptions, schedules and corresponding funding allocations with reference to planned transportation projects for 25 of the county’s local governments, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, local airports, and the Port of St. Petersburg.
The projects include new construction, reconstruction, capital purchases and maintenance work associated with roads, sidewalks, trails, transit services, airports, the Port of St. Petersburg, and the Transportation Disadvantaged Program.
The TIP adoption incorporates FDOT’s final tentative work program, which includes a five-year schedule of state and federally-funded transportation projects.
The Palm Harbor roundabout was one of the items on the Forward Pinellas’ Multimodal Project Priority List. Construction funding for the roundabout was allocated in the FDOT work program and is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2021-2022.
FDOT began a study of the Alt. U.S. 19 corridor two years ago to look for way to improve mobility and safety. Downtown Palm Harbor was identified as an area that needed better accessibility for non-motorized users.
Pop Stansell Park, local businesses and the Pinellas Trail run parallel to Alt. 19 to the west, and downtown Palm Harbor is located to the east. However, the area was lacking a safe way to cross the highway.
Pinellas County identified a roundabout at Florida Avenue as a way to reduce vehicle conflicts and speeding while providing a gateway to the downtown area.
The county and FDOT met with the public several times about the roundabout. The public preferred a traffic signal at Alt. 19 and Florida Avenue; however, it did not meet FDOT’s requirements to warrant a signal. FDOT proposed constructing the roundabout or putting in a traffic signal at Alt. 19 and Nebraska Avenue.
According to information provided at the June 10 Forward Pinellas meeting, the roundabout was eventually determined to be the best way to create a safe crossing while maintaining traffic flow on Alt. 19.
In 2018, Forward Pinellas prioritized funding for design of the roundabout, and FDOT continued its outreach as part of the design process.
Since the initial concept was presented, FDOT has shrunk the “splitter islands” to accommodate surrounding businesses and is working with businesses to adjust driveways as needed. The sidewalk in the northeast quadrant has been relocated and the rapid flashing beacons will be moved. The Pinellas Trail will shift to the west, and the sculptures will be relocated