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Dangerous crossroad soon to get stop signs

A city board that oversees historic districts signs off on a plan to improve safety and enhance the look of the intersection at Rome and Morrison.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 8, 2002


photo
[Times photo: Stefanie Boyar]
The plan for Rome and Morrison avenues calls for a four-way stop, drainage wells and brick crosswalks to match the park and nearby streets.
The orange barrels and temporary stop signs at Rome and Morrison avenues are coming down. Finally.

After months of delays, the city of Tampa's Architectural Review Commission this week approved plans to install a four-way stop at the busy intersection near Kate Jackson Park.

The unanimous decision came as welcome relief to area homeowners, who say the intersection breeds accidents.

"When my son started driving last year, I wouldn't let him cross the intersection until he was a stronger driver," said Anna Thomas, president of Hyde Park Preservation Inc., a neighborhood association.

The city began working at Rome and Morrison last year but stopped in December because the Architectural Review Commission did not sign off on the project. Any change to a street's character requires a "certificate of appropriateness" from the commission, which enforces rules for historic districts.

The city set aside about $135,000 to improve safety and enhance the look of the intersection. The crossing lies in the heart of the historic neighborhood just south of Old Hyde Park Village, a shopping and dining complex.

The plan includes new drainage wells and brick crosswalks to match the park and nearby streets. Rome will have traffic calming devices called bulb-outs -- strips of landscaping and painted cross marks to improve visibility for drivers and pedestrians.

The devices jut out from the edge of the road to narrow the width of an intersection. They allow stop signs to be placed closer to the center of the road.

At Monday night's hearing, Elton Smith, the city's transportation chief, said the bulb-outs are necessary, even if they don't conform with traditional, square grid intersections. Motorists can see the stop signs from farther away and pedestrians have a shorter walk across the street.

Commission members said they had some concerns about maintaining the area's historic integrity, but deferred to transportation officials. Like the residents, they wanted to see the job finished.

"I think we need to move this along. It's not going to be perfect . . . but I think it's ready to fly," commission member Kari Souders said to the applause of about a dozen people in the audience.

Smith said construction would resume in about a week and last about three weeks. It could take a little longer, depending on what material is used for the curbs.

Commission members and homeowners said they prefer granite over the standard, concrete curbs. Granite is more attractive and durable. It would also cost $10,000 to $12,000 more.

Smith agreed to ask the City Council for the additional money, but made no promises.

- Susan Thurston can be reached at 226-3394 or thurston@sptimes.com.

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