The saga of the apparent demolition derby that is Park Street at around Dartmouth Avenue continues. Residents have reluctantly learned to live with the fact that some drivers just don't get that it may be a good idea to stop lead-footing it through the hairpin curve. Accidents on the west side of Park are commonplace as motorists fail to slow down and negotiate the curve safely.
We touched on the Park Street situation several weeks ago, noting that a recent accident on the curve had done substantial damage to a wall on the west side of Park. Another accident wreaked further havoc soon after.
One resident wrote to me: "The guardrail by the culvert on Park Street opposite Dartmouth was never repaired after the September accident. What remained of it was wiped out by another accident over the weekend, which left a trail a half-block long of shattered sawhorse warning flashers, vehicle parts, and some landscaping. I think it also took out a power pole for the streetlight power line - one of them appeared quite new today. Just one more in a series of accidents, but with the longest debris trail I have seen."
I touched base with the folks at the county public works department to inquire about the plan for this chronically troublesome curve. The good news is that reinforcement is on the way, according to Pete Yauch, director of public works and transportation for Pinellas County.
Yauch said in an e-mail this week: "We are planning on placing new guardrail around the curve at this location. It has been designed and we just received the quote for it from our guardrail contractor. It should be going in within the next few weeks."
Major road work to come for Park
Jen Byers of Largo contacted me last week about a rumor she heard that there is a major upcoming road work project slated for Park Street and Starkey Road.
Is there such a project in the works and if so, how long will it last? she wondered.
I spoke with Jim Collins, division engineer for Pinellas County, and he confirmed that a mammoth project is on the agenda. It will take place in four phases. The project will add two traffic lanes - one lane in each direction - to the north/south corridor that begins on Park Street and becomes Starkey Road north of Tyrone Boulevard, all the way up to East Bay Drive in Largo.
Now don't get your feathers ruffled. This will not affect Park Street south of Tyrone Boulevard - there is no plan to disturb the historic brick road. This is a northward-moving project.
The first phase of the project will be with Starkey Road from 84th Lane to Bryan Dairy Road sometime in 2006. Collins said that the design for the entire project is in its final stage and there are many more details to iron out before a solid construction date can be set. The issue of utilities needs to be addressed and right-of-way needs to be obtained for affected properties that the county doesn't own.
"There's a whole lot of work that goes into these projects that the public doesn't see," Collins said.
Construction from Park Street at Tyrone Boulevard up to 84th Lane will begin in 2008. The project will begin on Starkey Road at Bryan Dairy up to Ulmerton Road in 2009 and move from Starkey/Keene Road from Ulmerton Road to East Bay Drive sometime in 2009.
County officials estimate that each phase will take about two years.
In real terms, that means the work should be done about the time my middle-schooler is leaving for college.
Have fun, booze-free
Looking for some tasty alcohol-free drinks to serve to the designated drivers at your holiday get-togethers? How about some DOT punch?
The Florida Department of Transportation and the local Community Traffic Safety Teams recently released their second annual edition of Recipes for the Road, a collection of non-alcoholic drink recipes gathered from popular restaurants throughout Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus and Hernando counties. The goal of the recipe booklet, of course, is to promote safe and responsible driving during the holiday season. Recipes for the Road is available online at www.hcso.tampa.fl.us
Red-light runners, beware
Sam Roberts wrote this week: "What are those little white lights attached to the bottom of some traffic signals, specifically, one at t Ninth Street N and 62nd Avenue?"
We have covered this question before, but because I am fond of repeating myself: Those little white lights are connected to the traffic signals and assist law enforcement in determining that vehicles have run red lights, even if an officer is not at the intersection.
Watch the red light cycle and the timing of the little white light going on and off next time you're idling at a stoplight. Law enforcement can be a block away and still nail a red-light runner thanks to these white lights, so would-be runners beware and knock it off, already.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
Please share your traffic concerns, comments and questions with Dr. Delay via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org