Largo Looks at Options for Roads and Area Transportation
by Bill Lopez
LARGO - A shift from rail to buses and redirection of traffic densities off Highway 19 are among the considerations of a new transpiration master plan considered by Largo. TBARTA made a short presentation to the Largo City Commission regarding Pinellas County public transportation Tuesday during he city commission meeting. Known as The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, TBARTA has the mission and authority to improve mobility and expand multimodal transportation options for passengers and freight throughout Pinellas and the surrounding six counties.
Whit Blanton, Vice President of Renaissance Planning Group (RPG), presented an overview to the City Commission of how Multi-Model Transportation Districts (MMTDs) are used and the nature of the Gateway Regional Multimodal Transportation District Pilot Project (RPG). These include portions of the cities of Largo, St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park and unincorporated Pinellas County.
The proposed boundary is generally Tampa Bay to the north; 4th Street North to the east; Gandy/Park Boulevard to the south; and Starkey Road to the West that encompasses the Bay Vista office park and the Largo Towne Center property. Concurrent with TBART's efforts, a multimodal transportation district (MMTD) can be adopted into a local government's Comprehensive Plan as an alternative means of achieving transportation services including transit, bikes and pedestrian travel) as an alternative to only addressing roadway capacity for automobiles.
Pinellas cities including Largo may address the transportation needs within special districts, such as a walkable downtown, redevelopment corridor, or activity center and the Largo staff proposes an MMTD to address transportation concurrency for the City of Largo's Community Redevelopment Districts of West Bay Drive and Clearwater Largo Road.
Current roadway development plans in Largo include two alternative preliminary engineering designs for the reconstruction of Highland Avenue. The staff requested City Commission direction to proceed with community meetings and evaluation of the final design recommendation. Highland Avenue is identified in the Strategic Plan as one of the key roadways for providing connectivity to the City of Largo and Pinellas County park systems. This roadway provides direct access to, or connectivity from Largo Central Park Nature Preserve, City Hall, Highland Recreation Complex, and Pinellas County’s future Eagle Lake Park.
The City of Largo Strategic Plan identifies the establishment of a system of community streets and expansion of trails and greenways to connect neighborhoods, parks, and civic attractions. Community streets are to be designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and automobile traffic. Under current conditions,
Highland Avenue is a two-lane road with rural drainage systems, and inadequate sidewalks for pedestrian or multimodal connectivity.
Common elements of the two preliminary design alternatives for the proposed project include pedestrian traffic modifications that provide safe travel within the corridor and expand the urban trail network, such as a continuous eight to ten foot wide concrete pedestrian trail and intersection improvements. Mast arms, pedestrian signals and stamped crosswalks would be part of the improvement plans.
Other improvements include curb, gutter and storm drainage system modifications to address roadway wear, standing water and localized flooding and landscaping that provides aesthetics and low maintenance.
Upon direction from the City Commission, the Largo staff will meet with specific project stakeholders to present the preliminary design alternatives and seek input regarding a final design alternative. Construction and a Capital Improvement Program costs for the project amounts to $6.7 million.
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