US 19 turn lanes blamed for traffic issues, FDOT working on solutions

Construction projects will bring changes

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Kate Driscoll says the stretch of US 19 just outside her neighborhood seems to have accidents every day.

“It’s dangerous. There are sirens all the time,” she said.

The numbers back that up. The Florida Highway Patrol reports 257 crashes along US 19 in the the Palm Harbor/Clearwater area over the last five years. Many of them involve injuries.

That’s a big reason the Department of Transportation is trying out a sign at one of the especially dangerous median turning lanes.

It reads, “When congested, use caution.”

“It’s a stupid sign. And I think people that turn left there and don’t live in the area maybe don’t even understand what it means,” said Driscoll.

FDOT does have bigger plans in the area, similar to what’s already been done in the Clearwater/Countryside area.

Plans include a new interchange on US 19, allowing traffic to drive over Curlew Road. Construction is still a couple years away on that.

There are hopes for another improvement just north of the congestion sign at Tampa Road and Nebraska Ave. But that project isn’t funded yet.

So in the meantime, the backups and potential for crashes continue.

“There should not be a left hand turn. People who live in this neighborhood do not turn coming north on 19 because they know it’s dangerous,” said Driscoll.

Businesses along US 19 want safer roads too, but worry the overpasses will make it harder for customers to get to them.

FDOT says they waiting six months to study how effective the congestion sign is.

But their project does plan to modify the median and it’ll be separated by a barrier.

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