CLEARWATER, Fla. — An $8 million pedestrian bridge over U.S. 19 in Clearwater is nearly ready to open.
Anyone who has driven on U.S. 19 in Clearwater during the last year has likely seen the progress of the new pedestrian bridge being built near Harn Boulevard.
With the changes on U.S. 19 in recent years, transportation planners say the bridge will serve an important purpose.
“We noticed that many pedestrians were trying to run across the road or get across the road in very unsafe ways,” said Chelsea Favero, a planning manager with Forward Pinellas.
Favero said Forward Pinellas asked the Florida Department of Transportation to consider building the bridge when U.S. 19 was changed to an overpass system to with help traffic flow, which meant some of the crosswalks there were removed.
“A lot of people see infrastructure projects like this as an improvement and makes it faster for them to get around,” Favero said. “But we also sometimes don’t see them as a barrier. And they can create a barrier to people just trying to walk across the roadway.”
The bridge will not only help those nearby residents and businesses but also those who use bike or walk on the Pinellas Trail.
“From this location, it’s half a mile to the nearest crossing,” Favero said. “So this overpass will allow people walking, with strollers or even on bicycles, to safely get across the roadway without having to far out of their way.”
The $8 million project is now expected to be done by the end of this year, and officials say drivers can expect some overnight lane closures in the meantime.
FDOT is also planning another bridge north of State Road 580 in Clearwater, as a well as a pedestrian tunnel in the same area. That part of U.S. 19 is now under construction to improve the flow of traffic.