Complete Streets may soon be coming to South St. Pete, if an application submitted by the City of St. Petersburg wins funding from Forward Pinellas’ Complete Streets program.
Four Pinellas County cities applied for funding from Forward Pinellas, the land use and transportation planning agency of Pinellas County. Clearwater, Dunedin, Redington Shores and St. Petersburg applied for planning and/or construction funds during the third year of the agency’s Complete Streets grant program before the December 14 deadline.
The City of St. Petersburg took its first crack at implementing its Complete Streets policy with the controversial resurfacing and redesign of Martin Luther King Jr. Street N. That project redesigned a crucial strip of the road – between 4th and 30th Avenues N – bringing traffic lanes down from four to three, adding two traffic-buffered bike lanes, with traffic buffers, and a center strip.
Kriseman has called the Complete Streets initiative “a new approach to build, maintain, and operate streets that are safe for people of all ages and abilities, while balancing the needs of multiple travel modes like using a wheelchair, biking, or accessing transit.”
Now, the City looks to bring Complete Streets to 22nd St. S between 1st Ave S and 15th Ave S. This corridor, 22nd Street South, is officially recognized by the City of St. Petersburg and state of Florida as a Florida Historic Main Street.
The Complete Streets application outlines key priorities such as: filling in gaps where bike lanes are superseded by turn lanes, redesigning the 5th Avenue South intersection, creating a new Deuces Live Main Street Gateway, raised intersections at the entrance of the Main Street “core” and a redesign of the Main Street “core” itself.
Historically, The Deuces was a booming African American-owned business district – until the project to expand I-75 into Pinellas County. The construction of I-275 effectively crippled the Deuces, dividing it from its adjacent residential, the Gas Plant neighborhood, and isolating businesses from the rest of downtown.
The corridor is not only part of the Deuces, but also the Warehouse Arts District, the artist and entrepreneurial enclave located in the industrial district adjacent to the corridor. Despite official recognition of the corridor’s historical and future importance, the interstate continues to pose problems for the corridor. It creates a physical barrier from north to south and bisects the street with an imposing overpass. In 2017, the city worked to beautify and light the underpass in an effort to make it more inviting to cross from north to south.
The proposed changes in the Complete Streets application are in line with the development plan for the two districts, the Deuces Live/WADA Joint Plan, which recommends improvements throughout 22nd St. S. Continuing the progress of the I-275 underpass beautification project, the Complete Streets effort should drive more foot traffic and create a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly corridor.
Veatrice Farrell, program manager of the Deuces Live, sees the Complete Streets grant as a way to jump start the joint plan for the district, something that could take years to implement without the proper funding. She says the master plan is a roadmap for redevelopment that “lays the framework for more community-based economic development.”
If awarded the funding, the City plans to complete the design phase of the project in 2019, using pre-allocated City funds.
A committee comprised of Forward Pinellas and local government agencies will review the applications and make recommendations to the Forward Pinellas board. The funding willl be approved at Forward Pinellas’ March 2019 meeting. Check back with the Catalyst for updates.