The Pinellas County Transportation Dept. wants to place an expansion to the Pinellas Trail down the Duke Energy Power line easement between Enterprise Rd. and Tampa Rd. The current route has been created to go down the Duke easement to Northside Dr and was planned to go up along Northside Dr to Countryside Blvd. (route alignment "B") but Pinellas Dept. of Transportation is currently stating they have safety concerns of this route and want to continue down the easement crossing Northside Dr. and down Meadow Wood; yet the biggest safety concerns we feel are crossing Northside Dr. and non ability/ease for police surveillance on the easement. Either route has to cross Countryside Blvd and the "A" route (easement to Meadow Wood) crossing would somewhat be a blind crossing as vehicles southbound on Countryside Blvd. are coming up a hill and around a bend in the road. Either route has to cross the same number of streets. Route B was unanimously chosen by the Pinellas County Board of commissioners at a public meeting on 6/20/19 and now over a year later the Dept. of transportation is raising "safety concerns" that are weak, incorrect, and invalid. WHY? Route "A" has even higher safety concerns.
The following are many of the reasons NOT to place the trail on Energy easement:
The placement of the trail on the easement provides a hazard to residents along the easement by having many people traveling on the trail that could possibly start a fire and cause wildfires in the field grass on the easement, spreading to adjoining residents homes; which has already happened several times. These fires have burned down many fences, and almost caught my boat and house on fire. The residents on the easement don't need or want the increased risk, increase in insurance rates, increase in crime rate, and decrease in property values due to this. Placement of the trail along Countryside Blvd. allows for easy surveillance and access for police and EMS. The decreased privacy and noise would also be a burden on residents along the easement as many of us have purchased homes many years ago along the easement knowing that we would have tranquility and privacy and now this would be gone. An increase of trespassing on residents private properly from trail users would also be a burden to residents along the trail. On Meadowood Dr. the trail would be right next to resident's condos (15ft or less) and the easement is way too narrow for a bike trail. The increase in crime rate and limited access for the police and EMS with the placement of the trail on the easement is a huge reason not to go with route "A".
There is also a high risk to pedestrians on the trail being struck by lightning, as there is a raised level of attraction of lightning to the high tension wires and towers, and being that we live in the lightning capital of the US, this would be a very dangerous place to be during a storm.
The agreement with Duke Energy is if work on the towers or high tension lines is needed that the trail would have to be closed during repair and construction processes, where they use multiple large bucket trucks to change out insulators or work on wiring and towers. If they damage the trail, in their agreement with Pinellas County, they will not be responsible for repairs to the trail or components. Also, there is a buried oil line on the easement that causes consideration of this trail placement and effect to human life. These are the reasons for the large easement that was put in place many years ago and has not allowed trespassing on it. Duke Energy is also requiring the County to carry liability insurance on their easement costing 56,000-80,000 per year.
Placement of a trail below power lines also is a bad idea as known facts of EMF's (ElectroMagnetic Fields) are hazardous to human health, and known to be cancer causing if you are close enough to the fields, which this would be. if this is for health, this will be causing cancer and other health hazards. The only solution to this problem is to place the trail along the South side of Countryside Blvd., Landmark Dr., or McMullen Booth Rd. (From an Internet search)…How far away from high voltage power lines is safe? The strongest magnetic fields are usually emitted from high voltage transmission lines — the power lines on the big, tall metal towers. To be sure that you are reducing the exposure levels to 0.5 milligauss (mG) or less, a safety distance of 700 feet may be needed. It could be much less, but sometimes more. Hundreds of studies worldwide have shown that being next to high voltage power lines and other parts of the power transmission network increases your risk of cancer and other health problems. The closer you are the more you are bombarded with dangerous EMFs. EMFs are measured in milliGauss (mG). The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you limit your exposure to 0.5 mG to 2.5 mG.). If it is okay to be under these transmission lines, why would the EPA have a recommended mG reading? Current measurement on the existing trail south of Countryside mall is over 10, which is the same under the power line on the Duke Energy easement proposed. Take a look at what the number one internet naturalist Dr. Joseph Mercola states about EMF's:
I have personally measured the gauss readings with an Extech ISO certified EMF meter. At the current trail running south of Countryside down to Sunset Point Rd mG readings range 5-11.5 mG on the trail and this trail was installed directly below the High Tension wires.
Please join us on December 10th 2020 for the virtual meeting with the Board of County Commissioners from 6-8PM by signing up at the following link. You may also pose questions for the meeting at this link also: http://www.pinellascounty.org/northloop/
Pinellas DOT has started a survey/vote for the Alignment choice. Please choose Alignment B...the safest route at this point!
Please click the link below to login, vote, and add suggestions and comments to the opengov survey.
Click on take the survey; You will need to use your email address as a login ID; then a password that uses at least 12 characters, 1 special character, 1 Capital character, and 1 number minimum. When you register your login and password it will then send you an email within 5 minutes that you have to click on the link to verify; then you can start on the survey/vote from the link it sends you. Once you're in you can click so as not to display your name to the public if you wish, where you live in relationship to the trail or just a trail user, NEXT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CLICK……"VOTE ALIGNMENT B" for everyone's safety, then you may add comments if you wish and please address that Alignment B would be the safest! Please help us win this vote and battle!!! Thank you for your help!!!
Safety should be the number one concern. The loss of one life will be too many. Alignment B is best since the trail users will go parallel to the traffic on Northside Dr. (and consider the fact that going parallel to is much safer than crossing traffic). Routing pedestrians across Northside Dr., Northridge Dr., Fox Hill Dr., and Meadow Wood Dr., for "Alignment A" will surely be extremely risky due to the position it would cross on those busy neighborhood thorough fare roads as the traffic would be at the highest speed at those points on those roads maybe using traffic beacons on just some.
Here is a list of the Pinellas County Commissioners email addresses:
The following is a note written to the county Commissioners in April 2019:
Dear Pinellas County Commissioners:
Thank you for taking the time to hear me on April 9 about the north loop of the Pinellas trail placement. I would like to reiterate to you some of the points I made and show you some of the statistics that I mentioned also. This information is very important in the decision making and relies on accurate and just information which I provided to you on Tuesday April 9th at the BCC meeting. The amount of "driveways" mentioned by Mr. Jacob was defiantly incorrect and I wish to give you the information I have compiled on paper for your perusal. Like I said the information can easily be found on "Google Maps" or by riding the route yourself as I have done.
The selection of the trail down the Duke Energy easement is the least attractive to most people if they only knew the true way that it looks and all the negative reasons why not to place it here, and we don't want to show/find out after it has been constructed. The land on the Duke easement is a dried up field laden with sandspurs that will cause bike tire flats, has high potential to attract criminals, lightning, fires, and is very hot during all months (excluding some of the winter) to an unusable point, with no shade whatsoever. This easement has been "No Trespassing" since its inception and now we are going to open it up to everyone??? The decision to use this route was made many years ago, and many things have changed since then. Please try to see all the benefits of any of the other routes especially the Enterprise/ McMullen Booth route which has plenty of shade, existing sidewalks that would cut the paving cost in half, already has the traffic lights with crosswalks, and the ease of police/EMS surveillance and access in place at no extra cost. This route is totally advantageous and is less dangerous than the Duke route for everyone. The ability to connect this route to the Ream Wilson trail and the Courtney Campbell trail/Hillsboro are two of its biggest plusses. It links to many businesses, sports fields, towns, Clearwater High School, and churches which are great assets. The concern of high speed traffic is no greater that any of the three routes proposed by the DOT as traffic is regulated by the 45 MPH speed limit and the amount of traffic on the road. If it is OK to have the existing trail along side of East Lake Rd. north of John Chestnut park (@ 50 MPH speed limit) why is it not OK to have it along side of McMullen Booth Rd @ 45 MPH??? Traffic load is about the same. Both sites of the trail are equally far enough to the side of the road where there could be no interaction with the traffic, which parallels the traffic and has less of a potential accident then any of the other routes crossing traffic at various spots of high potential accidents. The need of a million dollars spent on traffic lights, and possible overhead crossing bridges needed at the cost of 3-5 million dollars each should just cancel even the thought of the Duke easement being a choice.
We need to really get serious about taking into consideration of all these facts and choose the correct route or do nothing and save the money for Pinellas humanitarian needs and not of that for just completing a trail loop. Please make the right vote/decision and change to something other than the current proposed route. Thank you!
These are just some of the good reasons NOT to place the trail on the Duke Energy Easement. Please join us by signing this petition so that we can present it to the Pinellas County Department of Transportation, Pinellas Board of Counsel Members, and Florida DOT to stick with the plan "B" Northside Dr. route. Thank you!
Dear neighbors, citizens, and petition signers, please note the following letter and new attachment of the current proposed trail route in green which is currently in question for unknown reasons. Please write your local commissioner of this zone/district 4 Dave Eggers (firstname.lastname@example.org) and add comments to the petition! Thank you!
The following email was sent to the commissioners on 10/15/2020
Dear Commissioner Eggers,
We homeowners in the Countryside area are closely watching the segments of the Pinellas Trail North Loop being built and we are concerned that the Northside Drive segment has not been started nor have the routing stakes been placed. This has a concerning meaning to us that it might not go down that route that we all agreed upon on 6/20/2019, and was unanimously voted by you and all the commissioners. Many of us have put in countless hours and have serious concerns about the routing of this trail and how it would change our area and our lives. We also are seriously concerned that we compromised on this route, pointed out its aesthetic and functional superiority, went through the process to get this route changed, and now it seems to be in question for unknown reasons.
The Duke Easement to Meadow Wood route would put the trail and users 15' outside of most homes on the Duke Easement and right next to Chateaux Woods Condominiums (on a road that is inappropriately too narrow for a bike trail), which would seriously affect hundreds of people and homes, opposed to just 2 homes on the Northside Dr. route. The Northside Dr. route is very short up to Countryside Blvd. and the easement on Countryside Blvd. is very wide.
Please read the comments from the local folks that live in the area affected on our petition, and their concerns. The fact of having this part of the trail 15' from most all of the homes alone is enough a reason for it not to go this route and it being a bad idea, plus the many other reasons like crime, access for EMS, EMF's, vagrancy, congestion, loss of privacy (in an area that currently is pristinely quite), wild fire, trespassing, many wild Coyotes running up and down the Easement, and with all these reasons and more property value and viability of selling these properties will go down significantly. Many current owners had no idea that the route for a bike trail was even a possible consideration in a current "No Trespassing Zone" when they bought their homes years ago, and mention that they will move if the trail route goes through the original proposed route down the Duke Easement and along Meadow Wood drive.
Could you please investigate what is going on here and let us know why the route that was voted on and chosen is even in question and please assure us that this is the route that will be taken that we all voted on, as like I said that it would seriously change this area, our lives, and lives of the trail users.
We took the Northside Dr. vote as the word of the Commissioners and a man's word is his honor, which is something he must carry with him to the grave. We are counting on you and your fellow Pinellas Commissioners to protect us and do what we (your constituents) want and need! We really appreciate having county representatives who have taken the time to hear the input and wishes of their constituents and take actions in their behalf. Thank you!
Sincerely, Bruce Rumble