Forward Pinellas Approves Funding for ‘Complete Streets’ Projects
By HILARY LEHMAN, Forward Pinellas
The land use and transportation planning agency agreed to spend up to $1.1 million on three projects in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and the unincorporated Lealman area.
PINELLAS COUNTY – Pinellas County’s land use and transportation planning agency will be funding three local projects that make streets safer for all users.
The Forward Pinellas board voted unanimously March 8 to approve up to $1.1 million in funding for three complete streets projects: construction of sidewalks on 34th Street S in St. Petersburg, and preparing plans for Drew Street in Clearwater and 54th Avenue N in Lealman.
The projects are funded as part of Forward Pinellas’ new complete streets incentive program, which aims to assist local governments in planning, designing and constructing complete streets projects. Complete streets are designed, operated and maintained for all users, regardless of age or ability, based on the context of the roadway and its surrounding area. The incentive program, which is in its first year, offered up to $1 million for construction projects and up to $100,000 for concept plans.
The program was created with the goal of leveraging transportation dollars to help create quality redevelopment, said Chelsea Favero, a Forward Pinellas principal planner and the coordinator of the program.
Complete streets not only make the streets themselves safer, but are often a catalyst for development and investment because they make communities accessible and walkable. In that way, the complete streets program contributes to Forward Pinellas’s mission of integrating land use and transportation planning countywide.
“We don’t know of any other agency in the state with a program quite like ours,” Favero said. “We’re using our funding to advance concept planning projects, not solely construction.”
Cheryl Stacks, transportation manager for St. Petersburg, said the sidewalk widening project on the west side of 34th Street S had been long-supported, both by the Skyway Marina District and the city – but logistics made it hard to get accomplished. Now, having the project funded through Forward Pinellas’s program allows the city to coordinate with state plans to resurface the road to do even more.
“Absent this complete streets program, this project would not be likely to happen although it’s much-needed,” Stacks said. “This is a true win-win; the dollars that are being made available through the program are going to be able to be leveraged against the state resurfacing dollars.”
Ellen Crandall, a senior planner for the city of Clearwater, said the Drew Street complete streets project was catalyzed by the community’s desire for safety modifications and attention to the area near Coachman Road.
“The momentum and the request for this project came from the citizens and from the neighborhoods there,” she said.
The funding for the concept plan, she said, will allow the city to devote attention to the specific concerns that residents raised, and to enhance a larger corridor of Drew Street connecting two activity centers – N Fort Harrison Avenue and U.S. 19.
Pinellas County principal planner Caroline Lanford said the Lealman project funding will allow the county to get more public input for specific concepts for the corridor between 34th and 49th streets.
“Pinellas County has already been investing in this area, and the complete streets dollars will allow us to improve multimodal transportation, bolster economic growth and improve quality of life in the Lealman community,” Lanford said.
Six projects were submitted for consideration, with recommendations for the three finalist projects submitted through the Forward Pinellas Technical Coordinating Committee. Forward Pinellas anticipates another call for projects this fall with another round of projects funded subsequently.
For information about Forward Pinellas and its projects, go to forwardpinellas.org.
Forward Pinellas | Complete Streets | Lealman | Roads | Traffic | TB Reporter
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