Ongoing work around Tampa International Airport can create some challenges for motorists, especially those who make infrequent runs to TIA and are unprepared for the myriad barricades and lane diversions.
Reader Nancy Swarts recently encountered some confusing signage while leaving TIA and wrote to ask us about it. Swarts wrote: "Dr. Delay, last night leaving TIA, there was an overhead sign that indicates for I-275 and Route 60 to stay in the middle lane. Shortly after that there is a small sign that points to the right but if you go straight you can still get to I-275. Neither sign says north or southbound I-275. Luckily the traffic was very light at that time of night and I was able to change lanes safely. Please ask the powers that be if there could be better signage for those of us who do not go the airport that often."
We forwarded Swarts' note to the DOT's John McShaffrey, who then had his interstate construction project team review the roadway between TIA and Interstate 275. McShaffrey said that Swarts is correct in saying that the signage does not delineate routes for northbound or southbound I-275, but this is intentional.
"The first sign is intended to get the driver onto the correct roadway going to I-275. As you travel towards I-275, there are additional signs directing traffic to the correct lanes for northbound or southbound I-275 and to continue east on State Road 60."
McShaffrey said DOT is continually revaluating the signs to make it easier for drivers to read and follow. And, because of traffic shifts, new ramps opening and other construction changes, lane configurations will continue to change. One example McShaffrey cited is that in early 2009, traffic exiting TIA will be able to continue straight to southbound I-275 without having to enter the loop ramp or mix with traffic going to northbound I-275 or Kennedy Boulevard. He also cautioned drivers not to speed through the area, for safety reasons. Speeding also makes it harder to read, understand and react to the signs.
"There are a lot of signs throughout this corridor — many of them spaced closely due to limited rights of way as a result of construction activity. When motorists exceed the speed limit and/or are distracted by other activities such as talking on the phone, they may miss important information on signs or miss signs altogether. We suggest people know what road they will be connecting to before entering the construction zone and then look for signs that will guide them to the connection. Also, as conditions change from time to time due to construction phasing, it is important to follow the signs each time passing through this corridor," McShaffrey said.
Eatery turn lane delayed
If it seems to you that the road work along Park Boulevard in Pinellas Park has been ongoing since time immemorial, you're not alone. Reader Eric Heckathorne recently inquired about the construction at Park Boulevard and 40th Street in particular. Like other readers, he asked the Doc what the deal is and more important, when will it finally be completed?
Pinellas Park staffers say that the turn lane and intersection project at Park Boulevard and 40th Street was permitted by DOT and relates to the private development of the proposed Golden Corral restaurant at the northeast corner of the intersection, no doubt good news to buffet fans. The project developer, First Florida Inc., is responsible for this work. Scott Pinheiro, Pinellas Park's director of engineering services checked in with the contractor and said he's anticipating that the work should be completed by Nov. 7. Pinheiro said that all lanes are currently open and there is no effect to traffic during the day — construction involving lane closures will be done at night.
Boulevard night closures
If you plan to motor through Seminole this week be prepared for the closure of the right northbound lane of Seminole Boulevard between 94th and 103rd avenues N from noon Monday until sometime on Friday evening. The closure will enable workers to perform scheduled maintenance on a 30-inch sewer main.
Be alert for goblins
Don't forget the Halloween is Friday. Be extra cautious driving through your neighborhood and keep an eye open for candy-preoccupied little goblins running around after nightfall.
Please e-mail Dr. Delay at email@example.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Check out Dr. Delay's Bay News 9 blog at www.baynews9.com/DrDelay.html to read more about commuting issues.