The timing of the traffic signals along 38th Avenue N between 58th and 62nd streets is bugging reader Mary Ann Kuzmickas, who says she feels like she's risking her neck every time she tries to pull onto 38th Avenue from her residential side street:
"Every day when I need to pull out of 60th Street to go east, the lights at 62nd Street turn green and the lights at 58th Street turn green. There's never a time when both eastbound and westbound traffic is stopped at the same time at those two intersections to allow cars to pull out of the various streets in between safely and properly."
The Doc shared Kuzmickas' e-mail with Bill Foster, the city's traffic signal coordinator (not to be confused with the mayor).
The bottom line of St. Petersburg's traffic signal plan is utilitarianism at its best, or as Foster says, "It has always been the policy of the city to time the traffic signals in a manner that will minimize stops for motorists traveling on major streets."
Foster told us that the timing scheme of the signals on 38th Avenue N at 58th and 62nd streets is set so that when an eastbound vehicle receives a green light at 62nd Street, it will continue east to 58th Street and also hit a green light. We who travel 38th Avenue N appreciate that, right?
As Kuzmickas notes, the timing is designed to also give westbound vehicles a green light at 58th Street and again at 62nd Street. This makes most drivers happy because 38th Avenue N is so heavily traveled. Foster notes that there are other benefits of the synchronized signals, including reductions in gas consumption and carbon emissions. And synchronization cuts down on incidences of rear-end collisions, he says.
Although he is sympathetic to the motorists trying to get out onto 38th Avenue N from side streets, Foster says that if the timing patterns were adjusted to create periods of time for that, it would throw the synchronization out of whack.
"Unfortunately, I do not think it would be possible to accommodate this request without causing numerous problems for a large number of motorists."
Why does sign have red light? To warn pilots
This week's incredibly observant Dr. Delay reader is unquestionably Mary Howe, who wrote:
"Going south on the Veterans Expressway near Tampa International Airport, one of the green highway signs directing lanes to TIA has a red light on top of it. Do you know why?"
We asked John McShaffrey of the state Department of Transportation to tackle this one, as directional signs on the interstate are the territory of the state.
McShaffrey told us the red lights are placed on top of structures of certain heights in airplane flight routes to warn pilots of the obstructions. The local aviation authority makes the call on where to place the warning lights.
Park and ride today for crawfish festival
If you're heading to downtown St. Petersburg today for the Cajun-Zydeco Crawfish Festival at Vinoy Park, don't stress over trying to find a place to park that's close to the gate. Just park and hop on a free shuttle that will take you directly to the action. Shuttle service to and from the festival will be provided from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. today with loops running every 10 to 15 minutes or so.
Stops will be at the Progress Energy Park/Al Lang Field parking lot and the South Core parking garage, the BayWalk parking garage and the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.
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