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Bryan Dairy traffic gridlock prompts public hearing

Anyone who regularly travels the Bryan Dairy Road east-west corridor knows the volume of traffic has exploded in recent years. It doesn't seem possible that things could get any worse, but the Doc suspects they probably will. At least for a while.

Several factors contribute to the daily gridlock, including the extension of the 118th Avenue section that links Bryan Dairy to U.S. 19 and access to Interstate 275. Raytheon has moved about 300 employees into the former Eckerd Corp. headquarters on Bryan Dairy and about 200 more are expected to join them in about two weeks.

In March, Morton Plant Mease opened a new 24-hour emergency care center in its complex on the corner of Bryan Dairy and Starkey Road. Emergency vehicles trying to get through what is already a nightmare bottleneck are faced with a no-win situation.

Even if motorists wanted to yield to ambulances, there really is nowhere to go. It's clear to rush-hour commuters that the situation has exceeded the breaking point: The road simply cannot handle the current demand.

As if volume weren't enough, some inconsiderate motorists are making things worse, adding strain to what was once a viable alternate to Ulmerton Road or Park Boulevard.

Some readers have told the Doc that they prefer Ulmerton now because of the mess created by motorists who are so intent on exiting businesses onto Bryan Dairy that they are creating log jams.

The worst scenarios occur daily in front of Raytheon and the Young-Rainey STAR Center. While there are traffic signals there that should help manage the flow, motorists exiting the businesses ignore the signal when it turns red and continue barging out onto Bryan Dairy, creating a snake of traffic that then blocks east-west traffic, which in theory has the right of way.

There may be some relief in sight. If you have something to say about Bryan Dairy Road, Pinellas County Public Works is ready to listen. A public hearing to discuss proposed improvements to Bryan Dairy between Starkey Road and 72nd Street N has been scheduled for June 12 at Osceola High School.

The findings of a recent project development and environmental impact study will be reviewed and recommendations for widening the road from four to six lanes and the addition of bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides will be presented.

Notices of the public hearing will be forthcoming in the Times and letters will be sent to property owners within 300 feet north and south of the proposed project center line.

Help reduce motorcycle

accidents with alertness

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the Florida Department of Transportation is reminding motorists to be more alert and "Share the Road." It may seem like no-brainer, but some folks need a reminder to think about co-existing safely with two-wheeled conveyances.

The DOT says that drivers of vehicles involved in motorcycle crashes often say they never saw the motorcyclist and were unable to respond in time. Unfortunately, we have a terrible track record: Florida recorded 562 motorcycle fatalities — the highest in the nation — in 2006. So here a few reminders:

• Allow motorcyclists the full lane width. Do not share the lane.

• Without exception, use signals before changing lanes or merging with traffic. Motorcyclists are often hidden in a vehicle's blind spot or missed in a quick glance because of their smaller size and profile.

• Make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

• Don't tailgate motorcycles. Allow enough time and space when following so the motorcyclist has time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Remember, road conditions that are minor obstacles for passenger vehicles pose major hazards to motorcyclists.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at docdelay@yahoo.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.

Bryan Dairy traffic gridlock prompts public hearing 05/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2008 2:09pm]
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