Monotube may get new coat after vote
By ANNE LINDBERG
© St. Petersburg Times,
PINELLAS PARK -- It's big. It's brown. It has officials in at least three cities up in arms. It's been the brunt of jokes. And now the state Department of Transportation will let folks suggest how to improve its appearance.
"It," of course, is the monotube that stretches across the intersection of Park Boulevard and 66th Street.
People will have a chance Monday to look at paint and lighting schemes designed to improve the pipe's appearance. Then they'll have a chance to vote on the color -- light blue, dark blue, beige, silver or chestnut bronze (the current color) -- that is most pleasing. They'll also have a chance to comment on a possible mural at the base of the pipe.
If there's enough interest, the DOT will spend about $129,000 to repaint the pipe.
The prospect of such an expense (the pipe requires special paint) appalled Pinellas Park council member Patricia Bailey-Snook, who said the money could be better spent elsewhere.
If people are that upset about it, Bailey-Snook said at a recent council workshop, they need to "get a life."
Perhaps people are getting accustomed to it. Pinellas Park has been fielding fewer complaint calls, said Scott Pinheiro, the city's engineering services director.
"We got one lady that called and said she was from Albuquerque (N.M.) and they're everywhere in Albuquerque," Pinheiro said. "They paint them tan and they're not obtrusive at all."
Ever since the monotube was erected in early April as part of the DOT's widening of that intersection, its appearance has been the talk of the area.
More monotubes are anticipated for Florida's coastal areas as roads are built and improved. The pipe will withstand hurricane winds of 150 mph and should remain standing after a storm, unlike traffic signals that dangle from wires.
While the monotube may indicate good planning, thousands of motorists and Pinellas Park residents complained of the DOT's poor taste as the eyesore resembled an above-ground sewer pipe.
Pinellas Park officials cringed as their city once again became a bull's-eye for jokes.
More recently, St. Petersburg council members, threatened with the prospect of a monotube at Tyrone Boulevard and 66th Street N, passed a resolution trying to keep the tubes out of the city.
That seems to be the sentiment elsewhere. Pinellas Park Mayor Bill Mischler told council members recently that Seminole Mayor Dottie Reeder said she'd work to keep monotubes out of that city.
Mischler said it can't be done. If the road belongs to the DOT, that agency has the say-so.
If you're interested
The Florida Department of Transportation and Pinellas Park will hold an informal public meeting Monday to receive comments about enhancements to the big brown monotube at Park Boulevard and 66th Street. The meeting will address possible color choices, placement of illuminated signs, and the addition of a mural at the base of the structure. Staffers will be available to answer questions. The meeting will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Pinellas Park City Auditorium, 7690 59th St. N. For information, call DOT spokeswoman Marian Pscion at (813) 975-6038 or (800) 226-7220. Written suggestions can be submitted by July 2 to Pscion at 112 N McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612. You also can visit the city's Web site at www.pinellas-park.com or the DOT site at www.dot.state.fl.us/publicinv/pi-d7.htm.
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