A new traffic signal at 40th Street N and Gateway Centre Boulevard in Pinellas Park has not been met with cheers from motorists. Readers have inquired about the reasoning behind last week's installation. Some want to know why a signal was installed rather than a four-way stop. Others want to know who put it in and how much it cost.
The Doc took a spin through the area and checked out the new signal, which controls traffic traveling east/west off of U.S. 19 just a little bit north of the Walmart Supercenter. It's clear that a significant amount of traffic uses Gateway Centre Boulevard, which intersects Gateway Centre Parkway, as a cut-through to and from 28th Street as well as Gandy Boulevard. But this wasn't the reason the signal was installed. Rick Eggers, traffic director for Pinellas Park, said several factors led to the installation.
''It mostly had to do with the geometrics of the intersection, with traffic coming off of U.S. 19 on a big curve,'' Eggers said.
Another issue is area topography and poor visibility due to dirt mounds, trees and plants. A four-way stop was ruled out because it was thought it would contribute to rear-end collisions.
Eggers said another consideration is the number of pedestrians in the area — ''the highest volume of foot traffic in Pinellas Park" — due mostly to a nearby call center that employs about 150 people on a 24-hour schedule and may be adding more employees soon.
Eggers calls the stretch of road a good example of an intermodal area because it's pedestrian-friendly and features a new 5-mile bike lane. As for the price tag, the city originally budgeted the project at nearly $700,000, but the final cost was about $250,000.
Word could come soon on possible grant funds
Many questions have come in to the Doc after our recent update on the Pinellas Bayway (there's nothing happening right now in terms of work going forward on replacing the bridge due to lack of funding), so here's a followup.
St. Pete Beach Commissioner Marvin Shavlan wrote: "Dr. Delay, evidently the FDOT forgot to mention that they are applying for a Tiger II grant for the Pinellas Bayway Bridge. I believe the application is due in August, and awards will be made by the end of the year. It's my understanding that the Pinellas Bayway is one of three Florida projects being presented. I think we have a pretty good shot at being awarded these funds.''
Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation told us District 7, which includes Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Hillsborough counties, is submitting a grant request for Bayway Bridge construction. But there are a few possible sticking points.
''Unlike the Tiger I Fund ARRA program, the grant application for Tiger II Funds requires a 20 percent local fund commitment. The FDOT has $39.4 million in the Construction Reserve Account established by Florida Law to pledge as the local fund commitment,'' Carson wrote in an e-mail last week.
Stay tuned as the U.S. DOT is expected to announce the selected projects as early as the end of 2010.
Bayway Commuter Pass renewal period is near
The annual renewal period for the Pinellas Bayway Commuter Pass begins Sept. 1. The pass is $50 a year and provides unlimited passage through all three Pinellas Bayway toll plazas, including the dedicated SunPass lane, without having to stop to pay cash. Renew by phone toll-free at 1-888-865-5352 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Have the transponder number and a major credit card on hand when you call. Renew online at sunpass.com, and get information on all SunPass programs. If you don't have a Pinellas Bayway Commuter Pass or want to renew one in person, visit the Pinellas Bayway SunPass Office, 4501 54th Ave. S, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
E-mail Dr. Delay at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.