Motorists who travel U.S. 19 in the northern part of the county have been contacting the Doc recently about the long signal cycle at U.S. 19 and Alderman Road. Some drivers routinely run the red light because they apparently can't be bothered with sitting in traffic. Here's Courtenay O'Connell's observation:
"I have been commuting from Palm Harbor to New Port Richey for more than 25 years. … What once was a 30-minute commute in the morning and afternoon now stretches to 35 to 55 minutes.
"After Walmart increased its size on the northwest corner of this intersection, an additional right turn-only lane was added to U.S. 19 for southbound cars turning west. However, westbound traffic on Alderman Road lost its dedicated right turn-only lane, as did traffic heading north on U.S. 19. Now, if I do not time my morning commute carefully and I am at this intersection between 6 or 6:15 a.m., I can sit through three red lights, with a car in front of me, waiting to turn right/north on U.S. 19."
Other readers have bemoaned the fact that westbound traffic must wait longer for a green light to go north, and when they get the green signal it is a very short cycle. During afternoon rush hour, traffic backs up on Alderman Road past the two Publix entrances.
We passed these concerns along to Ken Jacobs, Pinellas County's traffic signal coordinator. Jacobs said recent road modifications were designed by the Florida Department of Transportation "to improve safety and to mitigate an increase in vehicle trips to the Walmart site." He says the changes have made the intersection of Alderman Road and U.S. 19 much safer for pedestrians and vehicles.
Regarding long signal cycles, Jacobs said a malfunctioning vehicle detection device may have contributed to the short green times. This device has been repaired, and the county's traffic management computers are recording longer side street and left turn green times.
77th Avenue N
New turn restrictions at Sawgrass Elementary
Parents of Sawgrass Elementary students long have been concerned about safety due to apparent conflicts between residents and parents dropping off and picking up kids at 1815 77th Ave. N, St. Petersburg.
Residents complain that parents speed, drive aggressively and block driveways at certain times. Some Sawgrass parents say residents park in staggered patterns along the street to make travel down "their" street difficult.
According to Mike Frederick, the city has monitored traffic in and out of the school since 2003. This year it was determined appropriate to take action. A March meeting to address these issues included the school principal and neighborhood residents, who talked about new turn restrictions to manage traffic flow.
"We are continuing to monitor the effects of the recently installed turn restrictions at 77th Avenue N/17th Way,'' he said. "We will also continue to work with the school and the residents to provide appropriate safe access and egress."
Baseball fans can catch a free ride to the Trop
Baseball fans, take note: St. Petersburg's free baseball shuttle has been scheduled to operate for each home game through June 29, which means that spectators can ride a shuttle from downtown to Tropicana Field. The service starts 90 minutes before the beginning of the game and lasts until one hour after the game ends with loops running approximately every 10 minutes. The shuttle stops on Second Street between Central Avenue and First Avenue S (under the pedestrian bridge connecting the Bank of America Tower and South Core garage). Motorists can park in the South Core garage by entering from First Avenue S between First and Second streets. For information, visit stpetetrolley.com/Events.html.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring.
E-mail Dr. Delay at [email protected] to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions may be edited for space and clarity.