Tooth-rattling gully repaired at long last

Published April 17, 2005

Thanks to the St. Petersburg city crew that finally patched the gaping gully left after a construction project on 15th Avenue S and 42nd Street. A reader e-mailed me last week about the intersection, and I took a drive to experience it for myself. It was as she described:

"Whoever laid a pipe or whatever left a strip about 1.5 feet wide and a good 4 inches deep across the eastbound lane of 15th Avenue South. They filled in the other side of the street but never came back to complete the job. It has been left like this for three weeks. There is no warning cone or anything. Doing the speed limit of 35 mph would cause your whole front end to jam into this."

And the doc found it was enough to jar dental work.

We're happy to report that the gully is gone.

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Here's a problem intersection in Seminole ripe for a pedestrian overpass, not to mention stepped up traffic enforcement: 102nd Avenue and the Pinellas Trail (just west of 113th Street).

Residents of the surrounding neighborhood tell me that getting out of residential streets in the morning is a nightmare. A drive through the area during morning rush hour confirmed their predicament. What a mess. The traffic signal at 102nd at the trail is operational from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

But here's what happens: Motorists stack up on 102nd so that exiting from side streets takes what seems to be an eternity. Part of the problem is that motorists routinely ignore the signs that say "Do Not Block Intersection," trapping drivers trying to get out of 118th Street and 119th Street east or west during rush hour.

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While we're in Seminole, here's another nightmare intersection, especially during rush hour: Park Boulevard between Seminole Boulevard and 113th Street.

Traffic signals between the two north/south roads cannot manage the heavy volume of traffic during peak hours. Motorists are often unwittingly caught in the middle of the road at the traffic signal on Johnson Boulevard, halfway between Park and Seminole. This interferes with the right of way of motorists attempting to enter and exit the shopping centers on the north and south sides of Park Boulevard - Seminole Mall and the Park Collective.

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A northeast St. Petersburg resident who drives on 40th Avenue N everyday wrote to me that he is perplexed by the school zone signs at 40th and Locust Street because he can't figure out where the school is. He wrote:

"There doesn't appear to be any schools anywhere around the area, and I haven't seen any children crossing in the area either. But every day traffic gets all backed up. Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to school zones, but I don't understand this one."

Michael Connors of the city's traffic engineering department tells me that the five-block school zone, which runs from 34th Avenue N to First Street, is for children who attend Northshore Elementary. "There are eight children who cross the walk there every school day. The zone has been in place for about six years," Connors said.

Mystery solved.

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Look out for the school of fish swimming along Gulf Boulevard. The 50 roadside mile markers designed by local artist Silas Beach have been installed and now grace the beaches beginning with mile marker zero at Pass-a-Grille to Clearwater Beach.

The two-sided fish are being maintained by each city, and Gina Harvey of the Municipal Planning Organization says the feedback so far has been great.

"We had some initial concerns about sign clutter but so far, people love them, we've even gotten calls from people saying that they would like to see more markers that are closer than 1 mile apart."

So did the mile markers go in because our beach communities wanted to emulate the mile markers a la the Florida Keys?

Well, something like that, Harvey said. But the real plus is that businesses and other points of interest can be located by using the closest mile marker as a reference point.

"A business can advertise and say, "Come see us at mile marker 12,' " Harvey said. "It's so much easier, because all the beach communities have their own numbering systems and addresses are all over the place. The numbers on Gulf Boulevard go up and down, depending on the community you're driving through."

Harvey added that emergency responders such as EMS and police and fire agencies have the mile markers in their systems, making it especially easier for tourists to pinpoint their locations if they are unsure where North Redington Beach ends and Redington Shores begins.

Stay tuned: Next week, the doc will go over the ins and outs for traffic during the annual St. Anthony's Triathlon, a weekend of events beginning Friday and culminating with the big race on Sunday, April 24.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

Please share your traffic concerns, comments and questions with Dr. Delay via e-mail at docdelay@yahoo.com