NewsPinellas County


Neighbors demand answers from county after construction starts again weeks after a $6M road project

Project extended county's portion of bike trail
Posted at 5:55 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-08 17:55:40-05

PINELLAS CO., Fla. — Pinellas County Public Works completed their part of a $6 million road project, but weeks later they are about to break ground again. Now, neighbors are demanding answers to what they see is a waste of taxpayer money.

The Coast-to-Coast Connection, like the name implies, will bridge Florida's West and East Coast in a 250 mile bike trail.

But it's not done yet, there are eight gaps throughout the nine counties it runs through. The multi-million dollar FDOT project helped close a five mile segment in Pinellas County (click here for more facts).

County leaders are responding to concerns about the new construction and want neighbors to know what they are seeing isn't what they think.

Antonia Gary gives the coast-to-coast connector two thumbs up.

"There are so many more people that are out riding their bikes or jogging, moms with their strollers. It's great," she said.

But Gary then noticed black tarps coming back up again.

"And I was thinking 'Huh. I wonder what's going on, what are they doing?'"

She says a construction worker told her busy Keystone Road is going to be widened. Gary is not a fan.

"It's basically just a matter of time until someone is hit and are we going to wait for that?" she asked.

She tells me it's not only a waste of money on an already expensive road but also dangerous. The lead engineer for Pinellas County Public Works says she's got it wrong.

"The travel lanes themselves will not be any closer to the trail as it sits today," said Tom Washburn.

Furthermore, he says this construction is for a completely different project from the Coast-to-Coast Connector. It's one five years in the making. Washburn gave ABC Action News a blueprint. He insists it shows that it's actually safety improvements coming to Keystone Road. Including adding a shoulder, one of those vibrating strips that let you know you're going off the road and what's called a safety edge; which he's particularly enthusiastic about.

"This will be the first roadway in Pinellas County that we are adding this to so we are excited to see how that operates," he said.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, a safety edge is angled at around 30 degrees. On their website they claim it's a "simple but effective solution that can help save lives by allowing drivers who drift off highways to return to the road safely."

"So the cars may not be closer but they are going to go faster," responded Gary.

She argues resurfacing the road and making it appear wider will undoubtedly make drivers speed and Washburn agrees.

"So we are monitoring it," he said. "If there are any safety concerns that develop we will address them."

Gary says she just wants the county to listen to the concerns of those living near or on Keystone Road.

"Why spend our tax dollars to create a known dangerous situation just to accommodate traffic?" she said.

While she wants them to listen Washburn is asking folks to have patience and give the changes a chance.

The Keystone resurfacing will be done by Spring.