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Check latest on wildfires before hitting the road

Dr. Delay Navigating South Pinellas

Published May 27, 2007


The wildfires that have been plaguing Florida in recent weeks are still a concern for everyone statewide. It's a good idea for motorists planning to be on the road during this long Memorial Day weekend to stay on top of the latest developments. The easiest way to do that is by dialing 511 statewide to listen tollfree to real-time updates on road conditions.

The Florida Department of Transportation said this week that the Osceola National Forest north of Interstate 10 is closed for recreational use through Memorial Day but the forest south of I-10 including Ocean Pond Campground is open to the public.

The closure of the Osceola forest is because of the Florida Bugaboo Fire burning in a 122, 643-acre area in Baker and Columbia counties north of I-10 and east of State Road 441. The fire was sparked by lightning strikes on Bugaboo Island in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge earlier this month.


Use the Looper to get to, from Vinoy Park

If you miss out on downtown events because you don't want to deal with parking hassles, try the trolley.

The Looper downtown trolley will provide free shuttle transportation to and from the Taste of Pinellas benefit event at Vinoy Park beginning Friday afternoon through Sunday evening. The shuttles will run about every five to 10 minutes from the BayWalk parking garage and the parking lots at Progress Energy Park/Al Lang Field and the Mahaffey Theatre. The shuttles will run until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and until 8 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information and to view routes and times, visit the Looper Web site:


Dial *FHP for free roadside assistance

If you're anticipating a road trip this summer, part of the planning should include contingency preparations in case you run into a problem on the road. Motor club memberships are a good idea and it's also nice to know about the DOT's Road Ranger program, which operates in Tampa Bay and surrounding areas providing free services to stranded motorists 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The program's coverage area has recently been extended on Interstate 4 to the Polk County line with coverage ending at the intersection of Interstate 75 and I-4. Motorists can call the Road Rangers for assistance by dialing *FHP on a cell phone. The Road Ranger services include clearing disabled vehicles from travel lanes and shoulders, helping to change flat tires, jump-starting batteries and providing up to 1 gallon of emergency gasoline. There are four trucks operating on the roads in Hillsborough County on I-4 from I-275 to County Road 579 Exit 10, on I-275 from the Tampa Airport Interchange (Exit 39B) to Bearss Avenue (Exit 53), and on State Road 60 from the Courtney Campbell Boat Ramp area (Milepost 5.5) to I-275 (Milepost 10.5).

In Pinellas County, two trucks operate on I-275 from Pinellas Point Drive S (Exit 16) to the north end of the Howard Frankland Bridge (turn-around on Kennedy Boulevard, Exit 39A).

The Road Rangers will respond outside their assigned area under special circumstances and don't accept reimbursement for their services.

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

[Last modified May 26, 2007, 18:45:28]

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