The intersection of 16th Street N and Gandy Boulevard has been under construction for quite a while, part of the road-widening project that runs from Grand Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N.
Now that work is almost complete and the intersection has been reopened, there's a mix of cheers and jeers from motorists.
At issue is the fact that the intersection has been shifted a bit farther east up the road than it once was. Some readers think the new location is terrific, some aren't so enthusiastic and others are simply curious about why it was moved.
Reader Larry Van Gelder wrote: "I don't understand the logic in moving the intersection a few hundred feet farther east of the previous location. Construction is not fully completed, but in conjunction with new regulations, it is now a horrible impedance to traffic flow."
Thomas Gibson, the city's engineering director, told us that the project and the intersection realignment was meant to add capacity and improve safety to Gandy Boulevard and the intersection, noting that the traffic volume is significant in this area. One of the improvements Gibson noted is the removal of the sight restriction that existed on the northeast corner of the 16th Street N frontage road intersection.
Left turns from Gandy Boulevard onto 16th Street N and 94th Avenue N will be permitted only when the green arrow signal is displayed.
"These left turns must cross three opposing traffic lanes on Gandy Boulevard and with the speed of the traffic on Gandy, it is safer to allow left turns at the intersection only when the arrow is displayed. … In addition, a median crossover will be opened west of the intersection that will allow unsignalized left turns from eastbound Gandy directly onto the north frontage road, allowing much quicker access to Gateway Business Park," Gibson wrote in an e-mail last week.
The project is ongoing. Asphalt will be placed along the 2-mile corridor in the coming weeks, depending on the weather, with work being done at night. Gibson said that once the new asphalt is in place, markings will give motorists an additional lane in each direction. Eastbound and westbound Gandy traffic flow will hopefully improve, and backups on eastbound Gandy should be relieved when all six through-lanes on Gandy are opened.
Medians sport array of hearty plants, flowers
Reader Chanda Reed is a plant lover who sent us a fun question. "This is not a driving problem, but I would love to know the names of some of the median plantings, particularly on 113th Street north of 102nd Avenue and along Bryan Dairy between Seminole Boulevard and Starkey. Is there any website that would provide this info?"
Vernon Bryant, a horticulture manager with Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources, told us that the median plants chosen are drought-tolerant and low-maintenance species.
"One of the main groundcovers is perennial peanut (not native but excellent plant for these very hot and dry locations), along with lovegrass, muhly grass, mimosa, beach sunflower, tropical sage, Stoke's aster, and black-eyed Susan. In addition, the trees that were planted include cabbage palm, bald cypress, crape myrtle, winged elm and yaupon holly. The shrubs include dwarf yaupon holly, coontie, sea grape, beautyberry, saw palmetto, firebush, and Walter's viburnum," Bryant said.
For information on any of the plants and others that would be good for local landscaping, visit UF-IFAS Extension on the Web at askExtension.org or pinellascountyextension.org.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
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