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Dr. Delay

New signs on U.S. 19 a godsend for drivers

DR. DELAY
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Jean Heller

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By JEAN HELLER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003


We need to start this week with a huge "thank you" to Pinellas County.

Sometime in the last month or so, the county erected new lavender signs along U.S. 19 from 54th Avenue S in St. Petersburg all the way to the Pasco County line which, at fairly short intervals, tell you what street address you are passing.

I don't know about the rest of you, but Jessie and I discovered long ago that finding street addresses along U.S. 19 is aggravating, irritating, unnerving and dangerous. Not to mention that most of the time it is an effort doomed to failure.

For some reason, most businesses along U.S. 19 don't put their street addresses out where drivers can actually read them, but at least the new lavender signs tell you when you're in the right neighborhood.

And for that, we are ever grateful.

Dennis Hengy, a Pinellas County school bus driver, asked us if we could find out if there is any schedule for the opening of drawbridges along the Intracoastal Waterway. Dennis figures if he knows when a bridge will be open, he can find other routes to avoid delays.

We thought that might be a matter of some interest to a lot of other people, too, who must commute to and from work, fishing, golf or tennis and would like to avoid waits for tall boats coming and going.

So we asked the state roadies, and they sent along the schedule. Clip this and post it on your refrigerator.

Clearwater Bridge, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., opens on the hour and then at 20-minute intervals. On Saturday, Sunday and official holidays, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., opens on the hour and half hour.

Indian Rocks Bridge opens on demand.

Welch Causeway Bridge, Monday through Friday opens on demand. Saturday, Sunday and official holidays, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., opens on the hour and at 20-minute intervals thereafter.

Johns Pass Bridge opens on demand.

Corey Causeway Bridge, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. opens on the hour and at 20-minute intervals thereafter. On Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. opens on the hour and at 20-minute intervals thereafter.

Bayway Structure C, which goes to St. Pete Beach, opens from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the hour and at 20-minute intervals thereafter.

Bayway Structure E, to Tierra Verde, opens from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the hour and at 20-minute intervals thereafter.

We hope this helps.

Edward Ringwald brought an interesting sign situation to our attention.

It is on Interstate 175, the spur that becomes South Bay Drive downtown.

I don't know about the rest of you, but Jessie and I discovered long ago that finding street addresses along U.S. 19 is aggravating, irritating, unnerving and dangerous.

Just before you get to Fourth Street S, there is a white-on-brown sign that instructs you to turn right on southbound Fourth Street for the Salvador Dali and Great Explorations Museums.

Edward thought maybe the sign was wrong on both counts.

He was right.

South is the correct direction for the Dali Museum, but the logical right turn is a block ahead at Third Street. The museum's address is 1000 Third St. S.

Mike Connors, St. Petersburg's celebrated street czar, said the city has been trying unsuccessfully to get the state roadies to change the sign to make it correct for Great Explorations, which everyone knows has moved to its permanent home at Sunken Gardens on Fourth Street N.

"If you're trying to get to Great Explorations, the sign tells you to go in exactly the wrong direction," Connors said.

So far, nobody at roadieville has responded to requests to fix the misdirection.

"It shouldn't even be down on I-175 any more," Mike said. "It should be up north where you come off of I-375. We've asked them to change the sign, and we're still waiting."

We know the roadies are listening. They always do.

Since we live in an area where statistics prove that pedestrians are at great risk, you will be interested in the results of a recent national poll conducted by the Surface Transportation Police Project in Washington, D.C.

The survey found that Americans want to walk more places more often and are willing to invest in making it possible.

Poll results show that if given a choice between walking more and driving more, 55 percent of adults chose walking more. There was overwhelming support for policies to make the walking environment less dangerous for people of all ages, and especially children.

A majority (68 percent) favor putting more federal dollars toward improved walking conditions, even if budget funds are tight.

Nearly half of Americans consider traffic where they live a problem, yet building new roads is the least popular long-term solution among choices offered in the survey.

Sixty-six percent of those asked said the best solution is improve public transportation or develop communities where people do not have to drive long distances to work or shop.

Only 25 percent of Americans advocate building new roads.

Flying in the face of our own personal doubts about traffic calming in St. Petersburg, 84 percent of those polled favored using state transportation dollars for street design that slows down traffic in residential areas, even though they may have to drive more slowly themselves.

(We are properly humbled in the face of such overwhelming opposition, at least for the moment.)

Seventy-four percent favored the use of state transportation dollars to protect children walking to school, even within tight budgets.

Now, less than 1 percent of federal transportation dollars go to protecting pedestrians, even though 12 percent of all traffic deaths are people killed while walking. And that's a national statistic. We all know it is higher locally.

We thought you'd like to know.

-- 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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