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Avenues may revert to two way

Eighth and Ninth avenues will be two-way thoroughfares between North Shore Drive and Fourth Street N.

By JON WILSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 3, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Two Old Northeast roads once designated one-way routes to speed up traffic are about to regain their old slow-lane status.

Possibly as soon as next week, Eighth and Ninth avenues will become two-way arteries between North Shore Drive and Fourth Street N.

The change comes as city government studies conversion of several downtown streets and avenues from one-way to two-way traffic.

The idea is to help businesses by creating more accessible traffic patterns, and to slow traffic through residential areas.

The North Shore Neighborhood Association, fearing the impact on the neighborhood of the new CVS drugstore at 845 Fourth St. N, requested two-way Eighth and Ninth avenues.

Currently one-way eastbound, Eighth Avenue will become two-way between North Shore Drive and Fourth Street N. Ninth Avenue will change to two-way between North Shore and Third Street.

Neighborhood leaders have often stated their goal is to make the streets and avenues safe for pedestrians, cyclists, pets and playing youngsters. At North Shore's behest, the city has installed stop signs and traffic-calming devices along many routes.

The avenues in North Shore aren't to be confused with another, separate two-way conversion being planned toward the western end of downtown: Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) Street and its companion, Eighth Street.

That, too, is the result of a neighborhood push that started several years ago. The MLK (9th) Street Business District said the two-way pattern will help entrepreneurs.

That project will be much more complicated and costly, in part because the streets' interstate ramps must be considered. Work probably won't start for at least another six months, said city engineer Mike Connors.

The one-way patterns were devised a generation ago when the city was anticipating that a huge population growth would create traffic jams one-directional flow could solve. What it does, entrepreneurs say, is stifle business.

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