Driving away jobs. Rush hour commute is extremely frustrating for people who live, work or commute through the Carillon area in St. Petersburg. Some of the city's biggest employers, like Raymond James and the Home Shopping Network are based in the business park that runs along Roosevelt Blvd and Ulmerton Road. Yet, the gridlock is so bad, some of the companies are holding off on adding jobs until work is done to alleviate congestion.
Every day, twice a day, thousands of hard working people are forced to wait at light after light to get into and out of the Carillon area.
Christopher Lee says it's the worst part of his day-to-day life. “It's bumper to bumper. It's not just the worst part of my job, it's the worst part of my life. I'm spending 30 minutes waiting in traffic that should only take me 5-10 minutes to get through.”
Between 7-9 a.m and 5-6 p.m., cars back up for blocks in the entrances and exits to Carillon Business Park, which also has restaurants, hotels, shopping and apartment buildings.
Karl Sevier explains, “There’s no room for anybody to go anywhere.”
It’s the biggest employment area in St. Pete, but working for some of the area’s largest employers has a price. “That’s the only thing I don’t like about my job is the drive,” Sevier added.
The problem? There are only five ways in and out of the business park, and everyone starts and finishes work around the same time.
Raymond James financial even gave the city a huge incentive. Fix the roads in and around Carillon, and we’ll add 650 jobs. The company recently purchased 3 additional buildings in the Carillon area.
That, combined with ongoing complaints about congestion, was enough to spur St Pete leaders into action. St. Petersburg plans to add more turn lanes at 4 different intersections and widen the roads in and around Carillon.
That work, combined with construction projects on Ulmerton Rd. and Roosevelt Blvd., should cut driver's commute time in half, according to Evan Mory, in the city's transportation department.
Lainii Sylvester, who works in Carillon, loves the idea. “That would be awesome, that would be amazing. That gives me more time to worry about other things like what’s for dinner,” she said with a laugh.
City council leaders are expected to give the green light to this project Thursday. Construction could take until 2018 to start.
The project would add: A third turn lane from Carillon Pkwy to Ulmerton Rd, widen Carillon Drive to accept additional traffic from Roosevelt Blvd, add eastbound second turn lane on Lake Carillon at Carillon Pkwy and add westbound turn lane storage on Lake Carillon Drive.