What's in a name? Several roads around the county may prompt that question because they change names multiple times depending on the cross street, municipality and who is giving you directions. Some of these confound the most sophisticated GPS systems.
The Doc's favorite road-of-many-names meanders through numerous towns, beginning in Seminole as Duhme Road then morphing into 113th Street (and also known as State Road 128 at this point) as it winds its way north. In Largo it becomes Ridge Road (also known as Alt. U.S. 19 and/or SR 595 along this stretch), then Clearwater-Largo Road. Clearwater calls it Fort Harrison Avenue, and it becomes Edgewater Drive in Dunedin, where motorists can continue to head north on what then becomes Broadway or head east on Main Street. And we wonder why tourists are easily confused.
One area bridge suffers from a similar sort of identity crisis, which no doubt contributes to visitor confusion and puzzles even longtime residents. The bridge is referred to as the Welch Causeway, the Tom Stuart Causeway, the East-West Causeway, the Madeira Beach Causeway or the Mad Beach Bridge, depending on whom you ask.
We touched base with Kris Carson at the state Department of Transportation and asked her to shed some light on the multiple name issue. Carson told us naming of roads is not a function of the DOT, but state roads may be officially designated (named) by the state Legislature. The current bridge was built in 1962 and named the Welch Causeway. A concrete inscription to that effect still exists on the bridge and Carson said that the Welch name was on earlier structures as far back as the 1920s. Legislators renamed the causeway in 1973, so its official name is the Tom Stuart Causeway.
Regarding the road numbering, Carson told us the Legislature tried to address confusing route numbers by passing a numbering plan in 1976. Back then the Tom Stuart Causeway was numbered SR 699 (same as Gulf Boulevard). The numbering plan called for north/south roads to have odd numbers and east/west roads to have even numbers. The DOT assigned the number SR 666 to the Tom Stuart Causeway, consistent with that road numbering plan, not as a religious message of any sort. Though I can't resist mentioning that a reader once told me she never crosses the bridge because of the number.
New poles will support cameras, message signs
Reader Joe Wareham of Tierra Verde asked us last week about the installation of some mysterious poles on I-275.
"Doc, I've noticed a new set of poles along I-275 all the way from the Skyway to the Howard Frankland Bridge. They look like an antenna of some sort, but not like a cell tower. Do you know what they are?"
The DOT has an ongoing Intelligent Transportation System construction project from 54th Avenue S to 54th Avenue N on I-275. The project will likely go on for several months and the poles may be supports for cameras, detectors and dynamic message signs.
White light helps police track red light runners
Reader Roberta Ashkenase had an easy question for the Doc. Truth be told, we explain this one once a year because inquires come in so regularly.
"Dear Doc, Can you explain why some traffic lights have a white light hanging from the bottom which lights up when the light turns red? This has been puzzling me for months."
As Roberta noted, those white lights cycle on and off in tandem with the red light on a traffic signal. The purpose is to assist law enforcement officers in determining from a distance whether a motorist may have run a red light.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
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