TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Top Pinellas County transportation leaders have awarded Tarpon Springs a $100K complete streets grant in order to help transform Disston Avenue.
The City of Tarpon Springs will be using the money to study the impact of eliminating a dead-end road sign on Disston Avenue and eventually connecting it all the way through to Belcher Road.
There is an opportunity to connect the north and south segments of Disston Avenue and add safety improvements within the area to provide a better and more comfortable alternative to U.S. 19.
The Disston Avenue project corridor, which includes the historic Union Academy neighborhood, is in a position to take advantage of the many regenerative activities happening in the vicinity, according to the City of Tarpon Springs.
An extension of Disston Avenue would connect to Belcher Road, which is a significant Pinellas County corridor.
The complete streets concept planning grant would allow for the opportunity to evaluate the proposed connection for adverse impacts to the surrounding community and to develop concepts utilizing a complete streets approach to mitigate impacts, according to the City of Tarpon Springs' application for the grant.
While there may be some concerns about a potential increase in faster, cut-through traffic on Disston Avenue if the connection moves forward, top transportation planners said it's really in how it's laid out.
"We have to design it properly so that people using this road as drivers are respectful of the neighborhood," said Whit Blanton with Forward Pinellas.
The project aligns with the city’s economic development goals to continue the infill residential development and revitalization of a historic neighborhood, according to the city's grant proposal.
Forward Pinellas also wants to ensure that there is a connection to the Pinellas Trail, as many people already use this roadway to walk and bike.
"We want to make sure that this intersection at Mears and Disston is a safe-crossing location," Blanton said. "Also, what else do we need to do to get people across Disston once it's fully connected and designed up to standard?"
Blanton said Disston Avenue is a very substandard roadway today, lacking sidewalks, bike lanes, and many other critical safety elements for communities.
The complete streets study is set to get underway in the next few weeks and should take between eight and ten months, according to Blanton.
Forward Pinellas said there will be plenty of outreach in the community surrounding Disston Avenue in order to ensure public input is a big part of the design process.