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Ask Dr. Delay: Traffic lights not well synched with bridge openings

Reader Frank Drinkwater of South Pasadena asks why the traffic signals at Pasadena Avenue and Sailboat Key Boulevard S are not in synch with the timing of the Corey Avenue Bridge openings. Drinkwater wrote: "When the arm gates go down to stop traffic at Pasadena Avenue and Sailboat Key Boulevard, the lights change to red, but then the exit from Sailboat Key Boulevard does not turn green until the bridge is almost completely open, causing some impatient motorists waiting to exit Sailboat Key Boulevard to run the red light."

We shared the question with Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation, who told us that when first installed, the signal was set in order to allow for bridge traffic to get clear of the bridge before the traffic signal turned red for them. But then a bicycle rider contacted the DOT to say that while the time was adequate for vehicles, it was not adequate for a bike rider to clear the bridge. In response, the setting for the traffic signal was lengthened to the current 90 seconds to allow for bike riders as well as motor vehicles.

Carson said that by law, the bike rider (or other vehicles that did not clear) would have to wait at a red light from the time the bridge is up, which is a minimum of about five minutes. The wait for a vehicle arriving on Sailboat Key Boulevard at the moment the bridge gates start to come down is 90 seconds. If a vehicle arrives after the bridge starts up the wait will obviously be shorter. Carson pointed out that as always, the DOT has an obligation to consider all users of the bridge.

Pinellas Bayway

Street names now inconsistent on signs

Many readers have contacted us about concerns related to the new mast arm traffic signal structure at the intersection of east/west 54th Avenue S (also known as the Pinellas Bayway/State Road 682), which takes traffic to and from the beaches and the mainland and north/south State Road 679 (also known as Pinellas Bayway S), which takes motorists to and from Tierra Verde and Fort De Soto Park.

For the record, the name "Pinellas Bayway" was conceived to refer to the Pinellas Bayway System — the string of bridges built to connect the barrier islands to the mainland in the 1960s. But longtime locals know we have historically referred to the roads as Pinellas Bayway and Pinellas Bayway South. So it's no surprise that folks say they are dismayed that the DOT has erected signs for east/west traffic traveling on the Pinellas Bayway/State Road 682 approaching the intersection that indicate that motorists may turn onto Sun Boulevard or "SR 679," rather than "Pinellas Bayway South."

Westbound, State Road 682 bottoms out at the intersection of Gulf Boulevard/State Road 699 in front of the Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa. Southbound motorists at the intersection who are in the left-turn lane to head east toward St. Petersburg will note that the green sign overhead reads "Pinellas Bayway" rather than "State Road 682." But after turning and traveling east on Pinellas Bayway, green roadside signs indicate that traffic is approaching "Sun Boulevard" with an arrow pointing to the left and "SR 679," with an arrow pointing right.

But no matter the signs, I have a feeling most of us will continue to refer to the road that takes us out to our favorite slice of heaven on Earth, Fort De Soto Park, as Pinellas Bayway South. I know I will.

The other issue with the new signal is confusion about whether vehicles coming from Tierra Verde and turning right toward St. Petersburg are permitted to make a right turn on a red signal.

The upshot is that yes, eastbound motorists may turn right on a red light after coming to a complete stop but only if the "do not turn right" signal is not illuminated. Look for an overhead neon sign with a right arrow with a red circle and a slash over it. The illumination is activated by pedestrians crossing the road, so be alert to that.

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: Traffic lights not well synched with bridge openings 04/09/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 9, 2011 4:30am]
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