Signal light operations improve

Dr. Delay Navigating South Pinellas

By LORRIE LYKINS, Times Correspondent
Published October 14, 2007

It may not seem so sometimes, but Pinellas County's traffic signal operations have improved significantly in the past two years. This according to the National Transportation Operations Coalition, which issued its 2007 National Traffic Signal Report Card last week, giving us a grade of B. That's up from a D in 2005.

County traffic managers say the improved grade is due largely to the new computerized signal management system that has decreased delays on some major thoroughfares.

The report noted improvements in traffic flow countywide.

38th Ave. N/MLK Jr. Street

Speed, limited sight are bad mix at intersection

One of the Doc's least favorite intersections in town is 38th Avenue N and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. For eastbound traffic attempting a left turn at the light, it can easily become a Hail Mary scenario. Opposing westbound traffic climbs a slight rise in the road and disappears from view momentarily before arriving at the intersection.

Vehicles exceeding the speed limit make it even dicier. Call me crazy, but eastbound vehicles should be permitted a left turn on a turn arrow only. The current phase of the turn arrow allows vehicles to turn, but it quickly cycles, allowing vehicles remaining in the turn lane to make a run for it on the green light with the rest of the traffic.

Ever wonder how turn signals get added to intersections? It's not a simple matter of requesting one, or bombarding the agency responsible with petitions. First, it's a good idea to know whether the roadis a city, state or county road. Usually, when the responsible organization receives a turn signal request, a study is initiated.

According to Keith Crawford, district signals and systems engineer for the DOT, three things are considered: the number of left turns in the peak hour, the delay experienced by motorists making the turn and the accident history.

"Generally, if our delay study finds that almost all left turns are made on the first green the driver sees after arriving at the intersection, we do not install the arrow, unless there are crash reports that demonstrate a need," Crawford said.

He also said that while we might think accident counts provide clear indication that an arrow is needed, left-turn crashes often occur where arrows are installed. And taking time away from a major cross street to provide the arrow can lead to rear-end collisions.

Even so, I still think a turn on an arrow-only is needed in this case.

62nd avenue N.

Road will be widened from two to four lanes

If you missed the public meeting last month to discuss proposed plans for improvements to 62nd Avenue N, you're not alone. A reader wrote: "I saw a sign along the road for a public meeting. I was unable to attend, but ... are there plans to widen the road?"

The answer is yes. The plan is to widen 62nd Avenue N from 49th Street to 34th Street. A study is yet to be completed, but the preliminary plan calls for widening 62nd from a two-lane road to a four lane-lane divided road with construction starting sometime in 2010.

Waste water system

Pipe work should be completed in November

Pipe work for the wastewater system replacement project on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street S from near Lake Maggiore south to 50th Avenue S is on track to be completed in early November at 50th Avenue S with restoration and road work to be completed in December, according to Stacie Lehmann, of the city's Water Resources Department.

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.