US Highway 19 was once known for stops and starts in parts of Pasco and Pinellas counties. Years ago, the state replaced traffic lights with overpasses, but now there’s a new problem. If real estate is booming elsewhere, it is different for land and businesses crossed by viaducts.

In Pasco County’s Beacon Square neighborhood, Universal Plaza is nearly empty. In Clearwater, on the same highway, overpasses make it easier for drivers, but more difficult for businesses.

“It used to be a commercial corridor, but now the access is a little more difficult,” Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said.

The US 19 corridor has been bypassed by development dollars as places like Clearwater Beach bask in the housing boom. US 19 is where things didn’t happen.

“We recently lost an insurance company that needed a hundred thousand square feet,” says Hibbard. “We didn’t have that and so they moved to Westshore.”

They were lured to the Tampa side by location, passing through what could be a bargain along US 19, which is dotted with gas stations and storage units.

“And although people need storage units, they don’t create jobs,” says Hibbard.

When the overpasses were built years ago, Clearwater had a plan to move the industry as the retail storefronts moved.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the development plan we were hoping for,” Hibbard says.

Developers may soon see new incentives from Clearwater and Pasco County to build different types of projects. Hibbard envisions developments that combine residences with commercial and retail developments.

It may be hard for some to imagine new neighborhoods sprouting up the US 19 corridor, but perhaps no more surprising than this once-notorious road becoming, in some ways, the forgotten highway.