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St. Petersburg is where rubble meets the road

DR. DELAY
heller
Jean Heller

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By JEAN HELLER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published December 22, 2002


We have a lot to address this week, so we should get right to it.

We're certain you are familiar with the block of Fifth Avenue N that forms the link between northbound Third Street and northbound Fourth Street. We've been in awe of this block for months because it has had, in our experience, a greater number of potholes per linear foot than any other block in the city.

Now there's more.

When we were through there late last week, somebody had torn up the two lanes that link Third and Fourth streets and left a pile of rubble where the road had been. If this is a prelude to fixing the pothole situation, hooray. If not, we haven't a clue what's going on.

Our purpose in bringing it up is to warn you. You will have to stay in the two left through lanes to get around the rubble pile and then cut in to get onto northbound Fourth Street at the last minute.

There are cones and barricades set up to steer you in the right direction, but some added caution is advised.

* * *

Jessie is plumb worn down by the Eyeball Jiggler situation around town these days. The recent torrential rains just played havoc with the roads and streets.

-- As some of you undoubtedly found out the hard way, several lanes of Interstate 275 had to be closed over several days to repair sections of pavement washed and pounded into hash. For the most part, damage done to local streets is still hash.

-- But some of the wreckage seems unrelated to the weather. We mean, what's with Third Street N between First and Third avenues? If you are in the second lane from the left, it looks as if someone dug a trench there and then replaced the pavement but forgot to smooth it over. Driving over it feels a little like operating a jackhammer.

-- Then there's the little darling on 42nd Street N between Third and Burlington avenues. It's a deep, circular dip right in the middle of the roadway so that neither northbound nor southbound traffic can avoid it.

It looks like an old manhole that's sunk, and we wonder if it is the beginning of failure for yet another of the city's aging sewer pipes. In any event, someone should get out there and take a look before it swallows a Honda.

-- And finally we arrive at the confluence of westbound Ulmerton Road and westbound Roosevelt Boulevard at 34th Street -- the east end of the so-called Miracle Mile. We like to think it's called the Miracle Mile because if you get through there without denting metal, it's a miracle.

In any event, the second lane from the right, as traffic from the two roads comes together, can't be called a road any more. It's like two wagon ruts studded with rocks. We haven't seen a section of road anywhere in Pinellas County that's in worse shape. Well, maybe the intersection of Central and Pasadena avenues in St. Petersburg, but that's the only place that even comes close.

Sheesh!

* * *

We had a question from Donna Marie Kostreva of St. Petersburg about the timing of some traffic lights in the Bayboro area, so Jessie and I trotted down to inspect the situation.

As we understand the complaint, when eastbound traffic on Sixth Avenue S gets a green light at Third Street and turns north, it is met immediately by a red light at Fifth Avenue S. The block between Fifth and Sixth avenues fills up during times of heavy exit traffic from the hospital district, and this backs up traffic on Sixth Avenue.

There's probably little that can be done about it.

It can be infuriating if you're in a hurry and you run into that sort of backup, but it is likely to occur any time you make a turn from one controlled intersection toward another. The lights are timed for through traffic, and not for turning traffic.

Witness the fact that it happens all along the First Avenues, too. Let's say you encounter a red light at northbound Fifth Street N and First Avenue N. The light turns green. You turn left and the first signal you come to on westbound First Avenue will be red.

There's no getting around it, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to retime lights for turning traffic to the detriment of through traffic.

So be patient.

* * *

Along First Avenue S, in the vicinity of 28th Street, the lane configurations are strange. On the south side of the avenue there is a bicycle lane beside the traffic lane and then a bunch of parking spaces next to the curb.

We have had reason to drive through there several times recently, and each time we've seen traffic eastbound on First Avenue cut across the bicycle lane and use the empty parking spaces as a lane to make a right turn southbound on 28th Street.

We're quite certain this isn't legal, at 28th Street or anywhere else.

* * *

We always hear from our good readers when street lights go out, and the recent storms took their toll along I-275 once again. It has gone dark for both the northbound and southbound lanes of the interstate from the area of the Suncoast Cathedral to the 54th Avenue exits.

Florida Power, which maintains the lights for the state roadies, should get out ASAP and check out that area.

We thank you.

* * *

And now, Dr. Delay's Terrible Traffic Tidbit of the Week:

The Federal Highway Administration informs us that every 13 minutes, on average, a person dies in a vehicle crash, and every 15 seconds, somebody is hurt.

And we don't think U.S. 19 was even included in this study.

-- Dr. Delay can be reached by e-mail at docdelay@sptimes.com , by fax at (727) 893-8675 or by snail mail at 490 First Ave., S, St. Petersburg 33701.

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