Upgrading of the US 19 corridor to an enhanced arterial with frontage lanes and grade separations at major intersections has long been a goal of the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Long Range Transportation Plan. In 1990, a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for implementing the partially controlled access concept from Gandy Blvd. in Pinellas County to Alternate US 19 in Pasco County. Due to financial constraints over the last 10 years, a limited portion of the recommended options have been implemented along the corridor with large portions remaining for future improvements. The necessary improvements and associated costs to improve traffic operations along the remaining segments of US 19 were identified in the 2020 FIHS Needs Plan.
In November 2000, a Cost Estimate Update Study was completed that developed a mainline with frontage lane system concept that minimized right-of-way requirements to improve traffic operations along US 19 from 78th Ave. to Live Oak Street in Pinellas County. Subsequently, sub-corridor reports were done for US 19 through central Pinellas County, including studies at 118th Ave. North, Seville-Druid, Enterprise Rd. and Curlew Rd. The 118th Ave. (and 110th Ave.) grade separations as well as the Enterprise Rd. grade separations are now under final design. Grade separations had been previously constructed at SR 688 (Uimerton Rd.), SR 686 (East Bay), Whitney Rd., SR 60 (Gulf-to-Bay) and further north at Countryside Blvd. and SR 580 (Main Street). Once these improvements are completed, the only segment through mid-county not addressed is the area from north of Whitney Rd. to south of SR 60. Exhibit 1 depicts the status of US 19 improvements from Gandy Blvd. to SR 580 in Pinellas County.
Study Purpose and Need
The purpose of the report was to investigate the feasibility of incorporating new grade separations between Whitney Rd. and SR 60 along US 19 with related facilities as a minimal segment to meet some of the deficiencies outlined in the 2020 Florida Intrastate Highway System (FIHS) Needs Plan for US 19.
This Whitney Rd. to SR 60 Grade Separation Feasibility Study reviews the construction, operational improvements, and design considerations for several grade separation placement and design configurations as part of the overall improvement plan for US 19. Where appropriate, the grade separation design options are based upon a new design concept that was developed to minimize the right-of-way needs associated with implementing the improvements. This concept minimizes the required right-of-way cross-section by cantilevering mainline lanes and tucking frontage road left turn lanes under the cantilevered section. This concept has been endorsed by the Pinellas County MPO. The new design concept minimizes right-of-way needs by providing all the required improvements within the existing 200-foot wide right-of-way corridor. Therefore, right-of-way needs are minimized for construction and generally to drainage easements, corner clips, and storm water management facility (SWMF) locations.