The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) have identified the need to improve S.R. 688 (Ulmerton Road) in Pinellas County, Florida. Greiner, Inc. has been retained by the FDOT to conduct the necessary preliminary engineering and environmental evaluations to identify the need, type, design, and location of multi-lane improvements to the corridor and major intersections.
The project limits extend from S.R. 699 (Gulf Boulevard) to Interstate 275, a distance of approximately 13.9 miles. For purposes of this study, the project was subdivided into seven segments as follows:
- Segment A – S.R. 699 to Oakhurst Road
- Segment B – Oakhurst Road to 119th Street
- Segment C – 119th Street to Lake Avenue
- Segment D – Lake Avenue to Tall Pines Drive
- Segment E – Tall Pines Drive to 66th Street
- Segment F – 66th Street to 49th Street
- Segment G – Roosevelt Boulevard (S.R. 686) east interchange to I-275
The section between 49th Street and the two Roosevelt Boulevard interchanges is part of the Department’s S.R. 686 (East Bay Drive/Roosevelt Boulevard) study (State Project No. 15030-1523). The project was subdivided into these segments because of their distinct features pertaining to traffic volumes, existing and proposed cross sections, as well as right-of-way availability.
Study Purpose and Need
S.R. 688 is a primary east-west arterial traversing the mid-county area of Pinellas County extending 13.9 miles from S.R. 699 (Gulf Boulevard) to 1-275. S.R. 688 is one of only three east-west cross county routes in the mid-county area. The Florida Department of Transportation proposes to improve S.R. 688 from a two-lane undivided and four-lane divided rural section arterial to a combination arterial and expressway with frontage roads system. The general alignment for the proposed action is along the existing roadway alignment in order to minimize right-of-way acquisition.
Pinellas County is north-south oriented peninsula. It’s existing roadway network provides a limited number of major east-west routes crossing the county. In addition to its east-west traffic carrying function, S.R. 688 also connects several major north south arterials. Consequently, S.R. 688 serves both local and regional traffic needs.
S.R. 688 is the principal east-west corridor in mid-Pinellas County and provides direct access between 1-275 and the Gulf Beaches. The existing corridor is heavily developed, extensively traveled, and is presently exceeding capacity. The travel demand in the S.R. 688 corridor is projected to increase substantially within the next 20 years. The existing facility will not accommodate the projected increased demand at Level of Service D, the minimum acceptable level of service. A significant demand for additional transportation capacity presently exists within the general area of S.R. 688.
S.R. 688 (Ulmerton Road) extends the full width of central Pinellas County, a distance of 13.9 miles, from S.R. 699 (Gulf Boulevard) to Interstate 275. Throughout most of S.R. 688, the existing roadway consists of a four-lane divided rural section arterial, with the exception of the two-lane undivided segment extending from S.R. 699 to Indian Rocks Road (approximately 0.7 miles), and a six-lane section between the two Roosevelt Boulevard interchanges (approximately 1 mile). The posted speed limit on S.R. 688 is 30 miles per hour on the Indian Rocks Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, 45 miles per hour through the west-central portion of the study area and 50 miles per hour in the section east of Belcher Road. S.R. 688 crosses all major north-south arterials in the county such as Indian Rocks Road (C.R. 694), Oakhurst Road (C.R. 697), Vonn Road, Ridge Road, Seminole Boulevard (Alternate U.S. 19/S.R. 595), Starkey Road, Belcher Road, 66th Street (S.R. 693), U.S. 19 (S.R. 5), 49th Street and Roosevelt Boulevard. Each one of these intersections is signalized with the exception of Roosevelt Boulevard which has grade separated interchanges.
The proposed improvements to S.R. 688 involve the widening of the existing facility from a two and four-lane divided rural arterial to a combination arterial and expressway with frontage roads system. The arterial section extends from S.R. 699 to 119th Street. The expressway with frontage roads extends from 119th Street to Interstate 275.
Proposed improvements to upgrade the roadway will accommodate bicycles and pedestrians in the arterial section and on the frontage roads in the expressway section by the provision of 14-foot curb lanes and five-foot sidewalks, respectively. The specific typical sections for the proposed action are discussed in detail in Section 3 of this document.