PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — When Renee B. fills up her tank, she knows a lot of the gas she pumps will soon be eaten up by a frustrating portion of her daily commute: East Lake Road.
It’s a road that leaves her frustrated almost daily.
“I just blast my music and just — just try to be relaxed and tell myself it’s okay,” she said.
Change, however, could be coming.
Pinellas County is in the early stages of studying the 9.3-mile stretch from Curlew Road near Palm Harbor, north through East Lake, up to the Trinity area near the Pasco County line.
East Lake Road is a six-lane divided roadway from Curlew Road to Tampa Road and becomes a four-lane divided roadway from Tampa Road to Trinity Boulevard.
The corridor cuts through an area of Pinellas County that’s quickly growing. Renee B. said the growth is fueling more and more congestion on East Lake.
“When traffic is so thick, it’s really terrible,” she said. “Like (Monday), I got stuck for a very long time trying to come in from Largo. There might have been an accident on 19 and an accident on East Lake — (County Road) 611 — and you’re just stuck. You’re just sitting for a very long time.”
According to Tom Washburn, with the Pinellas County Public Works’ traffic division, the county is considering a variety of upgrades on East Lake that might include more lanes, better intersections, or overpasses to help traffic flow better.
The improvements, which could prove costly, might be built in several phases once they’re studied, designed, and properly vetted. Washburn said 25-year projections show the traffic volumes will only increase, which underscores the importance of making improvements.
“We’ve got to figure something out,” he said.
First, however, Pinellas County needs your input.
It’s holding a virtual public meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. Register for the Zoom meeting here.
The county will also hold an in-person public meeting at 5:30 p.m. on June 1 at the East Lake High School gymnasium at 1300 Silver Eagle Drive in Tarpon Springs.
Read more about the county’s study of East Lake Road here.