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Old exit numbers come down gradually

By LORRIE LYKINS
Published February 4, 2007


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Here's an interesting bit of highway trivia prompted by a question from Don Ennis of Tierra Verde.

Why, he wonders, do some interstate exits still have the old exit numbers noted on the corner of the signs as well as the new ones?

"It can get confusing when trying to give someone directions," he wrote. "Any word on when they will finally take down the old exit numbers?"

We checked with the state Department of Transportation, which reported that there is no specific initiative or schedule to remove the old exit numbers but that they are coming down gradually when work is done in the vicinity of the signs.

126TH AVE. N AT 66TH STREET

Pavement marks faded

Pinellas Park reader James Molloy is peeved. And so are his friends. The cause of his distress is the intersection of 126th Avenue N and 66th Street, and it's been gnawing at him for years.

Molloy said that northbound motorists turning west on 66th Street are stymied by the fact that there are no discernible pavement markings for the stop bar. Because of that, vehicles often fail to hit the mark, and the turn arrow doesn't cycle.

On top of that, he said, the median built in the intersection is a full car length behind where the stop bar is, so frequently, motorists stop parallel to the median and end up idling through a couple of light cycles.

"The folks in the know spot the problem and hang back when the arrow doesn't come on and go past the person sitting there, make a U-turn up the block and come back - usually waving to the car still sitting there," Molloy wrote.

Other readers have noted the same issue with the east turn lane at 66th Street and 118th Avenue.

A field trip in the Doc's Buick out to the intersection confirmed that the painted stop bar is so faded it's barely visible, especially in the evening. We shared this observation with Ken Jacobs, traffic signal manager for Pinellas County. Jacobs conferred with the DOT on the repainting of the stop bar because 66th Street is a state road. A timing engineer from the county went out last week to take a look.

The engineer evaluated the intersection operation and made modifications to the settings so that the signal recognizes cars that drive over the vehicle sensor, Jacobs said.

"This will make the left-turn arrow come up every time a vehicle drives up the left turn bay disregarding whether they park on the sensor or not, however, the reaction will not be immediate; the signal will still cycle to the side street before the north-south left turn arrow comes up," Jacobs said.

The DOT's Kris Carson added that the Pinellas maintenance office has been made aware of the faded stop bar, and it will be added to current striping contract work. The re-painting should be done soon, Carson said.

PINELLAS PARK

Mall attracts traffic

The new outdoor mall in Pinellas Park, which attracts shoppers, moviegoers and restaurant patrons, is a buzzing hub of activity and enterprise. It's all good. Except for the backed-up traffic.

Eastbound traffic on Park Boulevard is funneled into two lanes in front of one of the entrances to the Shoppes at Park Place; one connects motorists to U.S. 19 north, and one connects south. But there's so much traffic that a continual log-jam exists.

Reader Tom S. Brown wonders why more lanes weren't dedicated to the flow of northbound traffic.

"The traffic backs up to the mall entrance - and sometimes to Park Boulevard - waiting to turn north onto U.S. 19," Brown said, adding that he questions why traffic flow is forced to move single file in one lane when there is space to easily accommodate two lanes of northbound traffic.

"All the traffic that lines up must go north onto a three-lane road U.S. 19, so the jam-up could easily be relieved if a center line were placed to allow drivers room for more cars to line up abreast at that intersection," Brown suggested.

The reason for the extra space, according to Ken Jacobs, is to allow for the swing of larger vehicles on the wide curve that exists there.

"At U.S. 19 and Park Boulevard, we have two lanes turning westbound to southbound; going at the same time we have one lane going eastbound to northbound," he said. "To add another lane for the eastbound to northbound may/will cause the two opposing outside lanes to overlap," Jacobs said.

But all is not lost. Jacobs said that the folks at the county's traffic operations are studying the issue.

NINTH AVENUE N AT 40TH STREET

Work requires closings

A utility project on Ninth Avenue N from 40th to 39th streets is set to begin Monday and is expected to take approximately three months to complete. The project will proceed when ongoing work on the 39th Street alley between Ninth and 11th avenues N is done. The work on rehabilitation of the wastewater line will require lane closings and rerouting. Eastbound traffic will be narrowed to one lane, and westbound traffic will be routed onto the other eastbound lane. Lane closures will include parts of 40th Street, and 39th Street will be closed on the north and south sides of Ninth Avenue N.

A representative of the Water Resources Department said the plan is to avoid total closure of Ninth Avenue N during the project but if conditions warrant, the traffic plan may need to be adapted to accommodate repair of the wastewater line.

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

[Last modified February 3, 2007, 20:26:08]


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