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Ask Dr. Delay: No room left to improve Pinellas Bayway toll plaza

Reader Bob Russell, a seasonal resident of St. Pete Beach, wonders about the Pinellas Bayway toll plaza:

"The Pinellas Bayway toll gates heading west added a fast lane for SunPass users two years ago. The eastbound tollbooths (at the Don CeSar end) were under some kind of reconstruction last year, and I hoped it was another fast lane in the works, but not so. Is anything planned, and if not, why?"

We passed the question along to Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation, who told us there are no plans to perform additional upgrades to the toll plazas for several reasons, including that converting a lane would mean more loss than gain.

"We have three lanes at the St. Pete Beach plaza. One of them is staffed, and the other two are exact coin lanes. If we converted a lane to SunPass-only, we would actually lose two lanes because SunPass lanes are wider and the equipment is different than a coin lane. We're out of room to expand the plaza. Also, on weekends traffic would be at a standstill because most of the weekend traffic is tourist, not local," Carson said.

Remember three-second rule for driving safely

Remember the three-second rule your driver's education teacher harped on that could help prevent rear-end collisions? If it has been awhile, or if you never took a driving class, it's a good time for review, especially now that school is out.

The National Traffic Safety Administration says rear-end crashes account for nearly one-third of all accidents in the country each year, and many are avoidable.

The three-second rule helps drivers establish a safe following distance, allowing a 240-foot gap for a vehicle traveling 55 mph, which should help with a safe stop. It works like this: When the vehicle you are following passes a landmark, such as a fire hydrant or a building, begin counting — one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi. The goal is to not reach the stationary object before "three Mississippi." Here's how the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association breaks down the three seconds: The first second accounts for reaction time, and the next two seconds account for braking distance. Give it a shot and remind the kids.

Keep an eye out for road work around town

Here's some road work around town to be aware of:

• Watch for pavement marking work along 49th Street from 38th Avenue N to U.S. 19. The work will involve intermittent lane closures and will wrap up at the end of the month. Sidewalk work is ongoing in the same area and is expected to conclude around the end of June.

• Belcher Road update: The detour set up because of ongoing utility work has moved to Bryan Dairy Road with the three southbound lanes of Belcher closed and one southbound lane using the northbound median up to 118th Avenue N. The current location of the Belcher detour should be in effect until about Aug. 1, weather permitting.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring.

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.

Ask Dr. Delay: No room left to improve Pinellas Bayway toll plaza 06/11/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 11, 2011 4:30am]
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