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DR. DELAY

Summer heightens safe driving needs

By LORRIE LYKINS
Published June 4, 2006


People might complain about gas prices, but it won't stop them from hitting the highway this summer, according to the folks at AAA.

The agency asks that motorists keep safety in mind as they hit Florida's roads.

"The summer travel season will remain busy this year for auto and air travelers alike," said Kevin Blakewell, senior vice president, AAA Auto Club South. "During high-volume travel, it is imperative that travelers stay aware of adverse conditions and delays."

Weather and wildfires can significantly complicate interstate traffic flow, Blakewell said. The dry conditions around the state increase the likelihood of wildfires, and smoke on the highway is especially hazardous. If you've ever had the experience of humming along the interstate at 70 mph and then traffic comes to an inexplicable standstill, you know of what I speak.

Add to that construction projects galore, which the Doc discovered firsthand when motoring to North Carolina last week.

AAA encourages motorists to take advantage of the Florida Department of Transportation's free 511 information system.

Dial 511 from your cell phone to get the latest information on traffic conditions on Florida roads and detailed detour routes when necessary. Calls are free, and the information is real-time, so check it out before you hit the road.

Then buckle up and have a great trip.

***

Not everyone is happy with the recently painted lanes on 28th Street N. Reader Kurt Schuller wrote in to express his concern:

"The city of St. Petersburg re-stripped and shifted the lanes on 28th Street N, which has created a dangerous situation because the lane shifts are unnatural. It should increase the city's liability when accidents happen because of this drastic change. The intersection of 28th Street N and 22nd Avenue are extremely dangerous if you are unfamiliar with the change."

Michael Frederick, manager of the city's Neighborhood Transportation Department, said the city is aware of the problem and is working on a solution that would align the lanes.

"This will be implemented as soon as it can be scheduled," he wrote in an e-mail last week.

The next day, an update arrived via e-mail from Thomas B. Gibson, engineering director for the city:

"At the intersection of 28th Street and 22nd Avenue N, the city will be applying additional lane directional arrows to provide the northbound 28th Street motorist with additional information for the lane assignments on the approach to the intersection. Guidelines for the lane edge have been provided across the intersection for the motorist and bicyclist. Additionally, we are also investigating an intersection modification which would move the northbound to eastbound turn lane to the east, which will improve the northbound through lane alignment."

Gibson also said the pavement reflectors on 22nd Avenue N that had been removed during the recent road work are scheduled for replacement soon.

***

What is the story with the huge sandbags on I-275? Motorists have noticed them around the drains near the Fifth Avenue N entrance ramp and other locations around the I-275/I-375 area in St. Pete. I asked the folks at the DOT.

DOT public information officer John McShaffrey said a project to "rehabilitate the concrete on I-375 and its ramps" is under way, and the bags in question are not sandbags but bags of rocks used to prevent construction debris from getting into the drains. They will be scattered around the area for the duration of the project, which is estimated to conclude sometime in the fall. Be careful driving around them. I imagine that a gigantic bag of rocks can do some serious damage to a car's undercarriage.

Until the week after next, happy and safe motoring!

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

[Last modified June 4, 2006, 10:49:05]


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