Observant motorists are wondering about work that has been happening under the Howard Frankland Bridge for a few weeks. A few readers have contacted the Doc expressing anxiety because they assume that structural problems may have been discovered and that the work is a repair job of some sort.
The answer: Remain calm, commuters, all is well. The barge under the Howard Frankland is there so workers can clean the bridge's bearings and then do some painting.
Work between Ridge, Ulmerton almost done
The yearlong project to improve Walsingham Road from Ridge to Ulmerton roads is nearing an end. The road and sidewalk project began a year ago this month and has pretty much stayed on schedule despite the discovery of nesting eagles near the site, which necessitated some adjustments in order to avoid ruffling the feathers of the expectant mother.
In the meantime, Walsingham Road has been closed to eastbound traffic between the Pinellas Trail crossing west of Old Ridge Road to the Walsingham Park entrance.
The projected completion date is mid November, according to Marq Caughell, communications rep for Pinellas County. The finished product will deliver improvements that include new sidewalks and bike lanes, resurfacing of the road from 119th Street to Seminole Boulevard and enhancements to the intersection at 113th Street, which will make the pedestrian crossing accessible to the disabled. Utility workers have also made upgrades to sewer, water, and storm drainage systems, which will provide better drainage on Walsingham Road.
A new phase of paving is scheduled to begin this week on the east side of Walsingham from Seminole Boulevard to 113th Street. There is still curb work to be done and once that's completed, Caughell says, workers will pave between 113th and 119th streets. The road and the entrance to Walsingham Park will reopen once the final paving is done on the western portion of Walsingham Road.
When buckling up, we're among the best
Here's a bit of refreshing news: Florida has topped the national average for getting something right. New data from the state Department of Transportation says we are getting better at buckling up, so much better, in fact, that we're better at it than most of the rest of the nation for seat belt compliance in 2009.
The DOT announced last week that statewide safety belt use reached a record 85.2 percent this year, a number the DOT is attributing to its Click It or Ticket safety campaign as well as the passage of the state's new law, which means law enforcement can stop drivers if they or their passengers are not wearing seat belts. The national average for seat belt use is about 84 percent. Whether the incentive for Florida motorists to comply with the law requiring seat belt use by every person in a vehicle is out of concern for safety or the desire to avoid a costly traffic citation, the good news, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is that by their estimates, the increase in compliance translates to preventing fatalities and injuries to the tune of saving 124 lives and preventing about 1,733 serious injuries.
Overhead signs should bring better information
Last week's closure of one northbound lane of Roosevelt Boulevard approaching the Bayside Bridge was for the purpose of installing the same type of dynamic message signs we have on the interstate. Now that the overhead signs are in place, motorists can expect real time traffic information and important alerts as they travel across the waterway.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
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