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Pinellas County

Moving Forward with Gateway Express in Pinellas

Feb 17, 2014
Florida Department of Transportation

The Gateway Express project is moving forward. The future elevated toll-way in Pinellas County will connect I-275 to U.S. 19, I-275 to the St. Petersburg/ Clearwater Airport, and the Bayside Bridge.

Construction for the Gateway Express is set to start in 2017.

The project is expected to cost $338 million dollars. There are federal, state and Penny for Pinellas funds paying for the project.

Kris Carson, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation said the expressway is another option to get around.

Pinellas County officials say the state Department of Health has agreed that Affordable Care Act enrollment advisors can operate within the same buildings as the local health department staff.

And DOH staff can refer uninsured patients to the advisors, called Navigators, for help in enrolling in a health plan on the Marketplace when it opens Oct. 1. 


"What the state said was that we could not hire Navigators, but that we could refer people to county offices within our buildings," said DOH/Pinellas spokeswoman Maggie Hall. She said it amounts to a "compromise."

The county and state agency were able to reach it because Pinellas County owns the buildings that the state DOH rents for its local operations. The Navigators cannot operate within the same offices as DOH staff, under the dictates from Tallahassee, which still stand. But they can be stationed nearby, providing one-stop-shopping to those who seek treatment at the health department.

HART

October was a record-setting month for public transit in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, according to figures released Friday. Continuing a trend a increased annual ridership, both Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority gave the highest number of monthly rides in their respective 33- and 28-year histories:

  • HART: 1,344,854 rides (up 11 percent from October 2011)
  • PSTA: 1,287,301 rides (up 14 percent from October 2011)

More people are taking public transportation in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) saw a 2.8 percent increase in bus ridership last month as compared to the same time last year. 

Though bus ridership was about average during the Republican National Convention, streetcar ridership did go  up.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority also saw in increase in ridership, a 10 percent jump from August 2011. 

ArticulateSuncoast.com

Art lovers in Pinellas County have a new virtual watering hole. ArticulateSuncoast.com is an offshoot of Creative Pinellas, a nonprofit started last year to promote and fund the local arts scene.

The new website is anchored by six blogs:

Tropical Storm Debby Causes Massive Beach Erosion

Jun 27, 2012
Jennifer Kopf

Tropical Storm Debby caused only about 3 feet of storm surge but that was propelled by high winds for more than 24 hours. That was enough for beach erosion.

And that could be bad for the tourism industry. According to Tampa Bay Times, lost beaches are lost business.

The beaches were part of Tampa's pitch to woo the Republican National Convention to town in August, as well as the longtime basis for the region's tourism industry.

Pass-a-Grille resident Tony Howe was sitting in his living room watching television when he heard a deafening sound.

"All of a sudden I heard this very loud noise like a freight train," Howe says.

"I was trying to get up from my chair and all my windows blew out and the glass shattered all over my apartment and hit me."

Howe's was one of 20 homes and businesses to be damaged by wind and by water. Florida Fire Marshal spokesperson Ernie Hand says at least eight buildings were severely damaged.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Even as the rains from Tropical Storm Debby fell at her Clearwater mobile home Sunday afternoon, Pamela Andrews thought she'd have time to get things together if she, her boyfriend and her son had to leave.

They didn't get the chance, as the nearby Cross Creek Bayou overran its banks, forcing them and other residents of the Mariner's Cove Mobile Home Park to grab whatever they could and flee the area. 

Courtesy of Outdoor Life

The Florida Highway Patrol says a 12-foot alligator was crossing Interstate 275 early Sunday morning when it was hit by a Toyota sedan.  The creature managed to escape into the woods. 

The gator then showed up on the Southbound lanes of 275 near Gandy Boulevard and was struck by a Kia. 

Both cars were damaged in the accidents, but their drivers were unscathed.  The alligator died after it was hit the second time and a trapper came to take its carcass away. 

Thursday was a day of weather extremes for the Tampa Bay area. 

The National Weather Service in Ruskin reports Tampa and Sarasota both set new high temperature records for May 24 with highs of 96 and 95 respectively. Both Brooksville in Hernando County and Bronson in Levy County posted highs of 97. 

Then, thanks to that heat and humidity, strong storms popped up along the sea breeze Thursday evening. 

Photo Courtesy of BayNews 9

Pinellas County Commissioners allocated $600,000 for a Republican National Convention welcome event at Tropicana Field. The money comes from the tourist development tax fund or what's called the "bed tax."

Tampa is hosting the RNC in late August but Tampa does not get all the spotlight. St. Petersburg and Clearwater are estimated to fill 33 thousand hotel room nights during the week of August 28. Officials say that would bring a $32 million impact for Pinellas County.

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