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Dr. Delay

Help on way for those Bayside Bridge bound

DR. DELAY
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Jean Heller

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By JEAN HELLER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003


Boy, do we ever have a lot of information updates for you this week, so we should get right down to them.

First, a report on that troublesome series of intersections where Roosevelt Boulevard meets the south end of the Bayside Bridge. It seems there are a number of people who groan when through traffic uses the right lane, thus preventing bridge-bound vehicles from turning right on red onto the bridge access ramp.

It is perfectly legal for through traffic to stay to the right. The right lane is not a turn-only lane. But when this happens, and it happens often, all the right-turners are inconvenienced.

Well, help is on the way. The state roadies have felt your pain.

In August of this very year, they will award a contract for two -- count 'em, two -- brand new dedicated right-turn lanes for bridge-bound motorists.

Those driving through on Roosevelt will keep the three lanes they have now.

With any luck, the project will be finished, or nearly so, by this time next year, and sales of blood-pressure medication will plummet.

Cheers to the state roadies.

* * *

Another recent question had to do with why the light on Gandy Boulevard that controls traffic to and from the dog track and the Brighton Bay complex goes through full cycles overnight instead of flashing yellow for Gandy and red for traffic entering Gandy.

Since the dog track is closed and other traffic is light in the pre-dawn hours, that seemed a reasonable suggestion.

It has been anything but simple getting an answer.

The state roadies, who normally would be responsible for signals on Gandy, don't take care of this one. Or so they said. That, we were told, is a job for Pinellas County.

Well, says Pinellas County, that's only partly true.

Here's the skinny from Ken Jacobs, one of Pinellas County's traffic engineering mavens.

"I know it is confusing but the signal really is owned by the FDOT," Ken wrote. "Pinellas County maintains the signal under a maintenance agreement with the FDOT. It works like this: If the signal is broken, Pinellas County fixes it. If we want to change how it operates, including flashing operation, the FDOT still controls that."

Ken said that he has sent his signal shop out to verify that the light switches were operating properly.

"Often times when phases come up and no cars are present, it is an indication of a hardware malfunction, which can be fixed by sending out a maintenance crew," Ken said. "The shop went out to check on this light and saw no malfunction. We are still evaluating other reasons the intersection might cycle without cars on the side street."

Ken also sent the request to evaluate the signal operating times to the state roadies so they could determine if flashing operation is appropriate and, if so, what times the signal would flash. Ken promises to forward their response when he gets it and, of course, we will do the same.

Meanwhile, if anybody sees a light cycle with no cars waiting to enter the street, let us know, and we'll call the signal shop and ask them to have a look. These are very nice people who seem to want to help.

* * *

Our final update involves the Bryan Dairy Road/118th Avenue link, a topic we have spent far too much time and space exploring. But we don't mind so much because it's such a vital new route for the county.

The problem has been with the timing of traffic lights, and the aforementioned Ken Jacobs has sent crews out now at least four times to clock the traffic and reset the lights at a variety of intersections. Not all of the problems have been resolved yet, but they're working to get it all right.

The problem, as I believe we mentioned before, is that the lights are set initially for the traffic the road bears when it opens. As more people find the road, the light cycles become inadequate and have to be set again.

It is an ongoing process.

* * *

Because we're in such good moods, Jessie and I are going to reward you with two Eyeball Jigglers of the Week.

The first painful pothole is in Pinellas Park, in the southbound lane of 34th Street as you approach 118th Avenue. Traffic on this road has picked up appreciably since the new Interstate interchange opened, and this hole in the asphalt is only going to get worse.

Speaking of the interstate, we segue into EJW II. It is almost at the crest of the overpass over 38th Avenue N in the southbound center lane. Huge gaps have opened along the seam between the center and left lanes, threatening to swallow any small cars that happen by.

We can only hope that the ever-lovin' state roadies can dispatch an asphalt delivery to the spot soon.

* * *

And finally, we pass along a lesson learned the hard way by Mary Hagemann, who was unfortunate enough to get a parking ticket on Ninth Avenue in Pass-a-Grille next to The Hurricane restaurant, where she had gone with a friend for lunch.

Mary parked between a van and an SUV, which conspired to hide the curbside sign that would have informed her that she had to pay a parking fee at the meter structure located at mid-block. The sign also says you must "Put your pass on the dashboard."

(Well, when we went down to look, there was this one sign across the street from the Hurricane on which someone scratched out the P in Pass. That left us with a very awkward instruction to follow -- but that's another story.)

Pass-a-Grille has a real mishmash of parking forms -- residential permits, central fee stations, such as the one on Ninth Avenue, and individually metered spaces. If you're going to venture over there, pay attention to where you park.

-- 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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