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Expert: Median needed for safety
By WILMA NORTON
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2000
SEMINOLE -- A traffic consultant has found that it is impossible to safely turn north onto 113th Street from Walker Avenue, the site of a late December accident that killed a woman and a 10-year-old girl.
Pete Yauch of Transportation Engineering Inc. is recommending that left turns from Walker onto 113th be prohibited by a barrier median.
Yauch was hired by the county to look at the safety of 113th Street from 54th Avenue to 66th Avenue after a December accident that killed 35-year-old Susan Plikunas and her daughter's 10-year-old friend, Alyssa Simcoe. They died after their car was hit as Plikunas tried to turn north onto 113th Street from Walker Avenue.
Yauch has several ideas for helping the traffic flow more safely from the neighborhoods west of 113th near Walker Avenue. He will present those ideas and others to residents from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Faith Presbyterian Church, 11501 Walker Ave.
"It's an opportunity for them to come out and tell us what they'd like us to do," Yauch said.
One option, he said, would be to join Island Avenue to 54th Avenue as another outlet to 54th. There's also a possibility, he said, of building a bridge over a finger inlet to make Bayshore Drive connect Oakhurst Drive and 54th.
Just north of Walker, 113th curves.
If a car is sitting on Walker trying to turn north, Yauch said, "With the speeds along there, you don't see a (southbound) vehicle long enough to make a good decision on whether to cross the street."
After the accident, the county trimmed trees along 113th to improve visibility, and it ordered Yauch's study of traffic patterns and safety.
In January, the county installed a "Right Turn Only" sign on Walker, making it illegal to turn north across 113th Street. The median was not modified, however, to make the turns impossible.
Residents said cars still make the turn.
Annie Nolan, who has lived on Walker for 30 years, said the sign has helped, but she thinks more needs to be done.
Southbound traffic "comes around there too fast, and you can't see," she said. "I think we need a traffic light there or a flashing signal."
County traffic engineer Judy Wiesner said some people have asked why the speed limit can't be lowered from the current 40 mph on 113th. It wouldn't help to drop it to 30 or 35, she said, because people probably wouldn't obey on the four-lane thoroughfare.
Yauch said he will strongly recommend that the median be closed to make those left turns from Walker impossible. He also is suggesting that a median lane be added a couple of blocks south of Walker so that traffic can make a U-turn back north before it reaches the 54th Avenue intersection, which has a traffic light.
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