Who turned out the lights? Mother Nature
© St. Petersburg Times
We always hear about it when the street lights go out, especially along Interstate 275; and boy, have we heard about it lately. There are several stretches south of downtown St. Petersburg that have been dark for some time and additional blackouts as far north as 54th Avenue N.
So we asked the state roadies, who tend to such things, why the lights go out in bunches and whether anybody cares.
It turns out they do care, and their contractors are working to fix the problems. As to why it happens: It is largely because of this area's summer weather.
Last year there were massive blackouts along the northern stretch of the interstate caused when Tropical Storm Gabrielle moved through in September and dumped a ton of rain on us. Some of the water seeped into old street light wiring and shorted it out.
This year -- the roadies tell us -- the problems were caused by lightning strikes, which do nothing good to electrical systems.
The best we can tell you is to be alert and be careful through those dark areas, especially when it's raining. The folks in charge are trying to get things fixed.
We've had a couple of questions about the exit ramp from northbound Interstate 275 to Gandy Boulevard.
Bud Weldman of St. Petersburg asks why there is no sign telling people to stay in the ramp's left lane for westbound Gandy if they want to get to U.S. 19. The state roadies tell me that they are limited when it comes to how much information they can post in any one place. So let's see what is there.
The first exit sign, which is on the interstate, tells you to take Exit 28, which is old Exit 15, for Pinellas Park and Seminole. The next sign, which is on the ramp, tells you that Tampa and the dog track are to the right. The third sign tells you that Pinellas Park, Seminole and Indian Shores are to the left.
There is no direction to U.S. 19 until you are well west on Gandy, approaching the notorious north-south highway. I would be willing to bet that more people want to know how to get to U.S. 19 than to Indian Shores -- no disrespect to Indian Shores -- and a little early warning would be nice. But then, what do I know?
The second matter involving Gandy comes from Stacey Rothman, who wonders why there is no yield sign for traffic leaving the interstate for eastbound Gandy. We couldn't believe there wasn't one, so we went up and looked. Stacey is right.
I'm sure most people know to yield, but it would be safer to have a sign.
Where, we cry once again to the night, are standards?
A South Pasadena resident wrote to complain that the curbing around the notorious sewer lift station on Shore Drive near its intersection with Pasadena Avenue is a serious hazard to motorists who keep driving into the barrier.
We went over to take a look. Given the black rubber coating on the otherwise yellow curb, we would have to agree that a lot of cars have been unsuccessful in negotiating a course around the obstruction.
Your city officials are mindful of the problems and are looking for resolutions. South Pasadena has tentative plans to create a traffic island, complete with lush landscaping, out of the ugly median, which now contains nothing but the lift station and a few weeds.
Normally we would tell you here what a sewage lift station does, but on the assumption that you are eating breakfast or have just eaten breakfast or are about to eat breakfast, we're going to take a pass. Suffice to say that you-know-what doesn't flow uphill, and sometimes it needs help to flow in the right direction.
When the city configures the lift station's island and an associated median, the plan should include provisions to make the obstruction easier to see and to negotiate. It isn't so bad entering Shore Drive from Pasadena. But it requires a fairly extreme change of direction to get around the lift station when you're driving the other way.
Anything that could be done to make the maneuver easier and the obstruction more visible would be a help.
We generally try to avoid Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. With the timed lights and one-way traffic on the First Avenues, why subject ourselves to the stop-and-go routine of a two-way street?
But we ventured onto Central recently at the suggestion of William Combs, who professed indignation at the paving patches applied to the westbound lanes between 59th and 64th streets. Zounds, he was right; it's pretty awful. It's not much better in the eastbound lanes -- there's just less of it.
Central Avenue is a county road, and we're trying to find out from the county why the new paving was left so rough and whether there is any consideration being given to overlaying or redoing it. We'll let you know as soon as we find out.
Now that the Bryan Dairy Road/118th Avenue connector is open, we can tell you about an equally astonishing feat of highway engineering.
And this is Dr. Delay's Terrible Traffic Tidbit of the Week.
Oct. 14 marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon in Colorado -- the completion of the transcontinental connection between Baltimore, Md., and Cove Fort, Utah.
We lived in the Washington, D.C., area for years, not too far from Baltimore, and we can't tell you how many people from Baltimore were clamoring for a simpler way to get to Cove Fort, Utah. Ten years ago, they got it.
It actually was a bit of an engineering coup -- as punching the road through Glenwood Canyon meant negotiating the Colorado River, a transcontinental railroad track and U.S. 6.
Isn't this just tres interesting?
-- Dr. Delay can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax at (727) 893-8675 or by snail mail at 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
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