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A tricky lane-ending awaits I-275 travelers

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2001


If you haven't driven the construction area on Interstate 275 north of Gandy Boulevard lately, there are some changes to report.

We told you last week that the contractors have restored the two-lane exit from the northbound interstate onto Roosevelt Boulevard. Since then, the new right lane has opened.

All this is good news. But there is always that pesky other shoe, isn't there?

If you are in the extreme left lane northbound, there's a nasty surprise waiting. Just beyond the Roosevelt Boulevard overpass, the left lane comes to an abrupt end. Yes, there are two signs before you get there warning of the lane closure. One is the standard black line that bends to the left. The other actually says, "Left lane closed."

But if you don't see the signs, you could be in some trouble. The roadway rises through that stretch, and the lane closure is right where the hill crests. You cannot see it coming.

I had to make a very sudden swerve to the right to stay on the open road.

Stop it!

I hear you out there making fun of us because we missed seeing the signs.

I have an excuse.

Jessie distracted me.

Meeting notice of interest.

I know there is a lot of momentum out there to persuade the state roadies to put traffic lights with appropriate left-turn signals on the Bayway opposite the entrance to Eckerd College. I know this because all 472,347 of you who want the lights have written to me to say so.

So for those not on the network, this is notice that the state roadies have heard you and will meet with you on Friday (this coming Friday, April 6) in the West Lodge Activity Room of the Continuing Education Center at Eckerd to talk about your concerns.

This goes hand in hand with their ongoing study of traffic and accidents through that area, a study that will be key in their decision, up or down, on the lights.

While you can't change the numbers in the traffic study, you can be heard on the dangers inherent at that intersection. If enough of you show up at the meeting to make an impression, the roadies might hear you, even if they don't get the numbers they need to justify a fix for the problem.

It isn't just an Eckerd College issue, either. Many of you from Dolphin Cay, Maximo, College Harbor and College Landings also have expressed concerns, and you are welcome to attend the meeting.

Jessie and I have to be out of town that day or we would be there. Rest assured, someone from Neighborhood Times -- with or without a pet -- will attend. We will hear all about it when we return.

An off-road item:

Forgive us if we veer away from the usual transportation and travel theme of the column for a moment. We wouldn't do it if it weren't important in this severe drought.

If you are one of our winter visitors preparing to head home soon, there are a couple of things you could do to help us conserve water while you're gone -- and to save yourselves some money.

Make sure your automatic sprinkler systems are set to Daylight Savings Time. (It began a few hours ago. If it seems like the world is running about 60 minutes ahead, you probably forgot to reset your clocks last night.) Local governments are getting very cranky with people who water at the wrong time on the wrong day. Fines are stiff.

Install a shut-off device so the sprinkler system cuts off in the rain.

Arrange to have a lawn contractor check your sprinkler system once a month for broken or misdirected heads and leaks.

Turn off the water inside

your house in case of a leak, and shut down water-using systems, such as air conditioners, so they don't regenerate unnecessarily.

Thank you.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled potholes.

It is the Eyeball Jiggler, Jaw Banger, Headache Inducer, Bone Rattler of the Week.

This dubious achievement award goes to a four-block stretch of Fourth Avenue N from Fourth Street to Beach Drive. Put snow on that street and you'd have an expert ski run.

We haven't seen this many ups and downs since we looked at the last five years of stock market records.

It is a mark of how badly the intersections are crowned that Fourth Avenue on the east side of each one looks as if it has been clawed by rabid lions, the marks of vehicles bottoming out as they bounced toward Beach Drive. Unless you don't care about your undercarriage, you need to creep through each intersection at speeds that don't even register on your vehicle's instruments.

It has been explained to us before that this is caused by heaping layer upon layer of asphalt over the years. The result generally isn't fixed until the street is due for repaving, at which time the crowns are ground down.

Surely, some exception can be made for Fourth Avenue N.

Please!

And, finally, Jessie's Terrible Traffic Factoid of the week:

Two of every three traffic deaths among pedestrians and vehicle occupants in this country are men.

We have no idea why this is, and we need to keep our speculation to ourselves because every possible reason we can come up with would offend somebody.

-- 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 33701.

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