Re: ‘County officials outline transit projects at forum’

Editor:

In the June edition of the Dunedin Beacon, I am quoted as saying there are no plans for additional interchanges on U.S. 19 north of Tampa Road because business owners don’t want them. I wanted to add additional context that I believe is missing.

First, flyovers are not off the table at any location. Forward Pinellas, in its role as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Pinellas County, puts plans in place based on technical analysis and with the input of the communities it serves. A few years ago, we requested that the Florida Department of Transportation take a fresh look at other mobility and safety options for the interchanges planned for the U.S. 19 corridor north of Tampa Road. The Tarpon Springs City Commission asked us to remove the Tarpon Springs Road interchange from our Long Range Transportation Plan because no money had yet been spent on the design. This action, along with feedback we had heard from businesses located along U.S. 19, prompted us to take a more detailed look at innovative intersection design concepts as an alternative to building interchanges up to the county line.

The fact that we are examining other options – the “balancing act” I referred to in the article – does not mean that U.S. 19 will stay as-is north of Palm Harbor, or that the flyovers and elevated interchanges are no longer an option. We continue to work with FDOT and Pinellas County to determine what options might be feasible from a planning, traffic flow, safety and right-of-way perspective, and these options will be presented to our board and the public for review in the coming months.

Whit Blanton

Executive director, Forward Pinellas