Sunday, June 17, 2018
Business

Interstate 275 signs tout closed BayWalk, Pier in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Along a large stretch of Interstate 275 leading into St. Petersburg, overhead signs direct visitors to the Pier and BayWalk.

In fact seven highway signs on the edges of St. Petersburg and tens of street signs in the city point the way to the once-vibrant attractions.

But as most St. Petersburg residents know, any spontaneous newcomer following the arrows would find ghost attractions: the Pier was closed May 31 and BayWalk, a shopping complex, lost vendors and popularity and is now undergoing major construction as it becomes the proposed Shops of St. Petersburg.

The signs, they are a'changin', though.

By the end of the year, city officials say, they will reflect the reality that the Pier is closed and BayWalk is defunct.

"I've not gotten a single complaint from anyone saying 'the BayWalk wasn't there,' but it could get confusing," said Joe Kubicki, director of the city's transportation department.

The promise of BayWalk will be replaced on signs by the city's new shopping mall project, said Kubicki.

City transportation staff first reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation, which owns highway signs, when shops moved out of BayWalk several months ago, confirmed Kris Carson, spokeswoman for the DOT.

Plans are under way to fund the project and hire a contractor, said Carson.

The costs of the changes could be around $50,000, said Kubicki, and will include either restickering entire signs or covering only the misleading letters with decals.

"It's a complex process, because you only have so much space," Kubicki said. "It's also a major effort; someone will actually have to go into the roadway with a bucket and do this."

Alison Barnwell can be reached at (727) 893-8804 or [email protected] On Twitter: alison_barnwell.

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