I was wondering if you knew what could possibly be the reasoning behind all of the planted medians that St. Petersburg is adding on Fourth Street between 30th Avenue N and Fifth Avenue N. They seem haphazardly dispersed and in some cases are way too close to one another. This is already causing major issues with drivers having to slow way down in order to make a left turn between these medians. These planted medians carry maintenance costs and further slowdowns can be expected when the watering trucks arrive. It seems to me that this is yet another case of St. Pete trying to make its roads slower and less passable for motorists. Could you please help us understand the reasoning here?
The Fourth Street project is one that's been in the works for nearly two decades. We asked Mike Frederick, the city's transportation manager, to give us some background and an update.
Frederick said the median construction is the second phase of a corridor improvement project that started back in 1994, when the city asked the state Department of Transportation to bring the sidewalks along the corridor up to standards. Here's what has happened since then: Negotiations had to be completed to secure easements on properties along the corridor before work on phase one, including restoration of the sidewalks and streetscape, could take place. This process took several years.
The second phase to build the center medians started in 2000 with a study conducted jointly by the city and the DOT to evaluate crashes along the corridor. Based on that study, the first median and pedestrian crosswalk was constructed at Sunken Gardens in January 2010.
Frederick said additional medians were designed and approved by the DOT after two public meetings, coordination with property owners, businesses, and neighborhood associations along the corridor. While they will take some getting used to, they are here to stay.
"These medians are the start of an access management program to convert the existing two-way center left-turn lane to dedicated left-turn lanes into each avenue. This design will reduce vehicle conflict, provide a refuge area for pedestrians that cross mid-block and increase safety for all users by providing a complete street concept. Yes, motorists will need to change their driving behavior and keep to the posted 35 MPH speed limit as the corridor changes from a pass-through route to a business destination area. The remainder of the center medians will be completed as further development takes place and access can be controlled," Frederick said.
You've mentioned often the construction of the Pinellas Bayway Bridge, but can you please address the "recreational" aspects? Will people still be able to fish from the bridge? Will people be able to walk or bike across it, safely, of course?
Pat Gorman, St Pete Beach
Kris Carson of the state DOT told us fishing, biking and pedestrian traffic will indeed be allowed on the new Pinellas Bayway. Carson said that both during and after construction, the sidewalk will be on the south side of the bridge.
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