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Driving southern stretch of I-275? Good news, bad

By JEAN HELLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001


Don't you just love starting the day with good news?

State roadie contractors have started grinding all that nasty new concrete on Interstate 275 where damaged sections were removed and replaced between 26th and 54th avenues S. The grinding will smooth out that washboard feeling that so many of you have complained about.

To make it even better, the old concrete is being ground smooth, too. Jessie and I drove that stretch Thursday, right tires on pavement as smooth as glass, left tires on the rough stuff that hadn't been treated yet. Odd sensation.

But it held a lot of promise.

Your patience is being rewarded.

Finally.

* * *

That's about all the good news there is out of the southern half of the city. If you don't have good reason to be in the area of 34th Street S and 54th Avenue S/Pinellas Bayway, stay away.

What a mess!

For starters, the on ramp from 54th Avenue S to I-275 will be closed at least until next Wednesday for concrete work. Then the off ramp to 54th Avenue S from the interstate will be closed from March 19 to 23. Same reason.

If that weren't enough, the detour route back to the interstate from 54th Avenue is northbound 31st Street S, and it is being repaved, squeezing lanes.

I can only imagine what it looks and feels like during the morning rush. It isn't a pretty image.

It's still a mess at 54th Avenue S and the Pinellas Bayway west of 34th Street S. The final course of asphalt hasn't been laid, so the pavement is rough and dotted by manholes that protrude above street level by several inches.

If you think you will get relief by using 34th Street, forget it. In at least three areas, road work has closed curb lanes both northbound and southbound. One particularly bad stretch is in the vicinity of Ninth Avenue S, where lane loss is accompanied by lane shifts.

Isn't this fun?

* * *

People, people, people.

Goodness.

You have made me the object of an e-mail campaign, and you are writing to the wrong person.

I agree with you, okay?

There should be a traffic light at the Bayway entrance to Eckerd College. There should be a left-turn arrow so westbound traffic can cross eastbound traffic safely during the savage morning rush.

Further, there should be a left-turn arrow for motorists leaving the campus to turn onto the Bayway toward the beaches.

But I'm not the one who will make the decision. That's up to the state roadies, and they're working on it.

I have written about this, and I promised you I would follow up next month when a decision is expected.

I will.

I promise again.

Meanwhile, Marian Pscion at the Florida Department of Transportation said she would be happy to organize your snail mail and e-mail on this topic and get it all to the right people.

Write her at the Florida Department of Transportation, 11201 N McKinley Drive, Tampa 33612. Or e-mail her at marian.pscion@dot.state.fl.us.

If you sent an e-mail to me about the Eckerd situation, it isn't necessary to send another to Marian. I have forwarded all the mail I received on the issue. She is fully aware by now how you all feel.

And it isn't necessary for you to send me any more mail on this topic. It isn't that we don't like hearing from you. We do. Jessie, especially. But you are expending a lot of effort preaching to the choir. It's the state roadies you must convince.

Go for it!

* * *

Now it is time for Dr. Delay's Terrible Traffic Trivia of the Week:

Did you know that carpooling nationwide declined from about 15 percent of commuters in the mid 1970s to 10 percent in the mid 1990s? Well, I'm doing my part. When Jessie goes to work, she always, always rides with me. This might surprise you, but she doesn't even own a car.

In recent years, driver fatigue and drowsiness nationwide appear to have been a factor in 56,000 crashes annually, resulting in 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 injuries a year. That certainly makes me tired.

Here's what you have been waiting for, the Eyeball Jiggler of the Week, sponsored by nobody.

Jim Snyder of St. Petersburg nominated this week's winner. It is in the intersection of 28th Street N and 22nd Avenue. The offender is in the northbound lane of 28th Street immediately north of 22nd Avenue. It's a head-bouncer, a combination of a big crown in 22nd Avenue followed by a dip in 28th Street where cars have bottomed out and gouged the pavement.

It isn't likely anything will be done about this until the intersection is repaved. So be warned, and slow down through there.

* * *

You are going to encounter roadwork if you travel 43rd Street S between Eighth and 18th avenues. Until approximately April 13, city sanitation crews will be replacing a section of pipe, part of St. Petersburg's dilapidated sewer system.

Eastbound and westbound traffic will be unable to cross 43rd Street between Eighth and 11th avenues until March 16. Traffic won't be affected in the second phase of work between 11th and 18th avenues. But watch for the work crews in the area, anyway.

- Dr. Delay can be reached by e-mail at docdelay@sptimes.com, by fax at (727) 893-8675 or by snail mail at 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

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