Many reader questions about who is responsible for what on traffic issues in Pinellas County require the Doc to pull out her color-coded map before touching base with the right experts.
The trusty coffee-stained map indicates which roads in St. Petersburg are county roads (pink highlighter on parts of 38th Avenue N and 22nd Avenue S, for instance) and which are state roads (yellow highlighter on 66th Street and parts of Gandy and Fourth Street). And then, of course, I have both yellow and pink highlighter on different parts of 66th Street because some of it is county and some of it is state. Still, I sometimes don't get it right.
In some cases, certain elements of roads that are the responsibility of one jurisdiction are contracted out to another. For example, 38th Avenue N is a county road, but the county might hire St. Petersburg to manage the traffic signals. So, every once in a while, the Doc sends an e-mail to the county or the city when it should go to the state Department of Transportation, and every time I think I have it all memorized someone goes and does another one of these dang collaborative contracts. Fortunately, the experts are mostly patient folks who forward my e-mails to the correct agency.
Which brings us to our first reader question of the week, from Nelson Daniels of Madeira Beach:
"Dear Doc: Who has the responsibility for the traffic lights on 66th Street N at the cross streets at 54 Avenue N, 46th Avenue N and 38th Avenue N? These lights are poorly timed and need some adjustment. Traffic traveling east and west on these avenues sits and waits for two-plus minutes when there's no traffic on 66th Street N. Pedestrians are running across traffic when they do not have the walk signal because of these issues. Who can I contact to have this situation reviewed?"
After consulting the Doc Delay map of many colors, we contacted Bill Foster, St. Petersburg's traffic signal manager, not to be confused with the mayor.
Foster said just one of the traffic signals — the one at 66th Street and 38 Avenue N — is under the city's control. The other two are managed by Pinellas County's traffic management system, so we have passed Daniels' question on to folks there.
Foster said that during the day when traffic is heavy on 66th, the signal at 38th Avenue N is operated in a synchronized mode.
"Unfortunately, in order to maintain synchronization there is an increased delay on 38th Avenue N. The volume of traffic on 66th Street is extremely heavy, therefore making synchronization a priority. Late at night when traffic on 66th Street is light, this traffic signal is operated in a free mode in order to minimize delay on 38th Avenue N," Foster wrote in an e-mail last week. This means that the signal is triggered by the presence of traffic.
We also asked Foster how often he is mistaken for Mayor Bill Foster, because sometimes when we tell readers we're going to check on traffic questions with Bill Foster, they assume we're going straight to the top. He said that he occasionally receives e-mails meant for the mayor, which of course he forwards without delay.
DOT workshop to look ahead 50 years on roads
The state Department of Transportation is holding a public workshop in Tampa on Monday as part of the development of the 2060 Florida Transportation Plan. It's one of 12 regional workshops to solicit input on the future of transportation in Florida. If you're curious about what Florida's roadways might look like 50 years from now, you may want to attend. Monday's workshop is from 2:30 to 5 p.m. in the state DOT District 7 Auditorium, 11201 N McKinley Drive, Tampa. For information, visit links.tampabay.com or call the DOT's public information office at (813) 975-6060.
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