Governor Rick Scott today, along with State Senator Jack Latvala and FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad, announced the acceleration of the current U.S. 19 construction project from North of Whitney Rd to State Road 60 in Clearwater. The project consists of removing the traffic signals on U.S. 19 between Whitney Road and S.R. 60 and constructing two new interchanges at Seville Boulevard and Belleair Road and rebuilding the S.R. 60 interchange.
Governor Rick Scott said, "Thanks to Senator Latvala and families in the region, I'm proud to announce that FDOT has formed an agreement with the contractor to accelerate work, to get everyone off of these service roads sooner. While the project was slated to be completed by the summer of 2015, with the new agreement we'll get traffic off the service roads by this October. We're investing $4.8 million to speed up this work so businesses can be more successful and area residents can spend more time with their families. This agreement will provide the region a lot of relief, and when all the construction is completed -- this area will be more poised to succeed."
State Senator Jack Latvala said, "Accelerating the U.S. 19 project will not only benefit the business community, but it will also help the motorists who travel through this corridor every day. This would not have been possible without the combined efforts of Governor Scott, FDOT and the contractor."
The contractor will shift traffic to a free flow configuration on U.S. 19 by October 15, 2014. This means all traffic signals on the mainline U.S. 19 within the project limits will be removed. Essentially this step will create a no-signals corridor on U.S. 19 between Republic Dr./Hammock Park Blvd. in Clearwater and Mainlands Blvd. in Pinellas Park.
The ultimate goal for U.S. 19 in Pinellas County is to establish a controlled access highway that will accommodate both regional and local traffic. The U.S. 19 project extending from Whitney Road to S.R. 60 will complete a 2.5 mile continuous section of roadway free of traffic signals. This section will ultimately complete over seven miles of continuous roadway along U.S. 19 free of signals. The estimated build-finance cost of construction of the project is $112 million.
Senator Latvala has worked with FDOT and the contractor to accelerate the project. State Representative Ed Hooper, Chair of the Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee, also worked to help expedite the completion timeline of U.S. 19. The U.S. 19 construction was originally slated for completion in late 2015, however the contractor has agreed to provide additional resources to ensure a completion date in the spring of 2015, moving up the project by more than six months.
FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said, "This project improves the safety of the traveling public, reduces travel time by eliminating congestion and separates local traffic from through traffic by including frontage roads."
In addition to providing safer travels for motorists, the project also provides pedestrian facilities that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, such as sidewalks and islands with pedestrian crossing signals.