DUNEDIN, Fla. — A big change is in the works in Dunedin to protect people who use the Pinellas Trail.
The pedestrian bridge at Alt 19 and Orange Street at the Palm Harbor/Dunedin city line will be replaced.
The old bridge was shut down last year after county and FDOT workers deemed it to be unsafe. The bridge is rusted and has orange signs telling Pinellas Trail users to go around.
The bridge closure forces walkers and bikers to cross Alt. 19, where they dart dangerously close to speeding cars. The county recently added big yellow flashing beacons at the intersection of Orange Street. Previously walkers and bikers had to venture to Tampa or Curlew Roads to safely cross Alt. 19.
Yet, pedestrians tell ABC Action News the new pedestrian flashing signs are not effective in keeping them safe. ABC Action News watched as several cars darted right past the flashing lights, cutting in front of bicyclists.
Suanne Shaw of Dunedin says she has had many close calls. “I feel like I’m going to die. I feel like I’m going to get hit by a car.”
Shaw bikes the Pinellas Trail nearly every day and feels like she’s taking her life into her hands darting across Alt. 19.
“I’ve seen people run right up onto the sidewalks,” she explained in an exasperated tone.
Jodi Silverman has had similar experiences. “The drivers don’t pay any attention to you. They don’t care!”
Pinellas County leaders tell ABC Action News they actually started building the new bridge this week at an offsite manufacturing location. The work was supposed to start months ago, but the bids the county received were all way above budget.
Now, workers will be out on the site within six to eight weeks and Pinellas County promises to have a new bridge in place by this Fall.
Karen Zendels-Hagen smiled big hearing that news. “I’m so happy! I'm so happy!” she exclaimed with excitement.
The new bridge will cost $2 million to construct. Most of the funding comes from Penny for Pinellas, the 1% sales tax recently renewed by county residents.