Reader Alan Bomstein of Dunedin asked the Doc about the southbound exit ramp from U.S. 19 at Gulf-to-Bay. He says there seems to be a consistent backup that keeps vehicles idling for two to three light cycles. The problem, he says, is because of the overpass widening project there, which closed the right turn lane (westbound) on to Gulf-to-Bay.
"At least half the traffic on that access road is headed west but can't do so until the light is green, a significant change from the old condition. It appears that the FDOT could reopen that right turn lane with a little modification. But they haven't, and the backups are terrible," Bomstein wrote.
Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation said there are only two lanes of traffic from Drew Street to Gulf-to-Bay and no dedicated right turn lane as traffic approaches Gulf-to-Bay. This leaves right-turning cars sharing one of the two lanes, most of which are turning east in the duo-left lane. A short right turn lane occurs as traffic is nearly at the intersection.
"Like much of the corridor, this section is extremely tight, and the area is needed for the utility relocation and a significant amount of storm drainage work at and north of the intersection along the new southbound frontage road. An area of the old roadway is also needed for maintaining sidewalk access for pedestrians. The utility and drainage work is nearing completion in the area with the permanent new roadway base, and pavement construction is set to begin along with new curb, permanent sidewalks and driveways throughout this section of the frontage road," Carson wrote.
After the section of the new frontage road being worked on is finished this fall, the two lanes will shift to the west to allow more storm drainage to the east, which will be at the location of the current lanes. Carson says the contractor plans to have this segment done by the end of the year.
Video campaign will tell drivers of dangers
The U.S. Department of Transportation has kicked off its campaign to educate the public about how deadly a second or two of distraction can be by profiling victims of distracted drivers and their surviving family members. The newest addition to the "Faces of Distracted Driving" video series features a family speaking about the death of a daughter, who was killed in Orlando when the car she and her fiance were in was hit at a red light by a semitrailer truck traveling 65 mph. The truck driver was texting and failed to brake.
The DOT says distracted drivers killed nearly 5,500 people and injured 500,000 more in the United States in 2009 — the most recent data available. The agency started the "Faces of Distracted Driving" series to raise awareness about the potentially tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use while driving. Watch some of the videos. They should be mandatory for new and veteran drivers.
Texting isn't the only driving distraction. Talking on the phone, eating, chatting with passengers, listening to loud music or driving with pets can affect concentration. Watch "Faces of Distracted Driving" at distraction.gov/faces. If you have a distracted driving story to share, e-mail it to email@example.com.
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Do we really have to discuss this again? Judging from the Doc's reader mail, yes.
This past week's intense rains were a reminder of how few drivers seem to remember to turn on their headlights when it's raining. Folks, if your wipers are on, your headlights should be, too.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
Please e-mail Dr. Delay at DocDelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity. Follow the Doc on Facebook by searching for Ask Dr. Delay.