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Dr. Delay: Update on U.S. 19 bridges

With the recent opening of Ulmerton Road's new section between U.S. 19 and 49th Street, readers have asked when we might expect the other sections currently under construction to be completed. This $89-million project involves two new six-lane bridges to carry U.S. 19 traffic over both 110th and 118th avenues, which includes the construction of one-way frontage roads parallel to U.S. 19 to provide access to businesses and residences.

We contacted Kris Carson at the DOT for a progress report. Carson said the steel beams for the 110th Avenue and 118th Avenue bridges have been put in place. Next up: construction of the concrete forms for the northbound bridge decks and the placing of rebar.

The schedule has workers pouring the concrete for the northbound 110th Avenue bridge deck in the next couple of months. That will mean intermittent nighttime lane closures and the shifting of traffic flow to the new northbound bridges by the end of the year.

To view a video presentation of the overall U.S. 19 improvement plan online, visit the state's Web site dedicated to the project: www.myus19.com.

On bike or foot, stay off Park Boulevard Bridge

The folks at Pinellas County Public Works contacted the Doc recently to ask that she pass along a concern about pedestrian and bicyclist safety on the Park Boulevard Bridge, which is being painted through late November. Sidewalks and shoulders have been closed to pedestrians and bicyclists. The work includes sandblasting and use of heavy equipment.

Signs indicate that the sidewalk is closed, and workers have been trying to keep people out of the work zone on the bridge with barrels, cones and red safety tape. But some pedestrians are going around the devices and entering the traffic lanes to cross the bridge, a situation the Doc witnessed herself.

"The fear is, of course, that if pedestrians continue to jump in the road in front of cars, we may soon see a pedestrian needlessly hit by a car, which has nowhere to swerve given the construction," said Meg Korakis of the county's communications department.

If you regularly drive Park Boulevard, be alert to the chance that someone may decide to step or ride out in front of your vehicle near the bridge. Keep the speed low and your eyes peeled.

Second Street open to two-way traffic

In case you haven't noticed, St. Petersburg converted Second Street from a one-way to a two-way street from Central Avenue to Fifth Avenue N late last week. This is happy news to most folks who are weary of circling the blocks downtown to get positioned in front of a business or a parking spot.

Eric Carlson, transportation director for the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, says this permanent shift allows easier access to businesses. And shuttles that take baseball fans to and from Tropicana Field won't have to circle the block to get onto Second Street anymore. Ridership on the Looper Trolley has jumped in the baseball postseason. More than 10,000 riders were ferried from downtown parking to the Trop for the last four games, he said.

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at docdelay@yahoo.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Check out Dr. Delay's Bay News 9 blog at www.baynews9.com/DrDelay.html to read more about commuting issues.

>>fast facts

Barricade watch

Look out for delays these road projects could cause this week.

Indian Rocks Beach: Gulf Boulevard (between Fifth and 28th Avenues N) — ramps and sidewalk installation.

Indian Shores: Park Boulevard Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway — bridge maintenance.

Seminole: Park Boulevard drawbridge over Intracoastal Waterway — bridge maintenance and painting plus work on the bridge tender house.

Dr. Delay: Update on U.S. 19 bridges 10/18/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 20, 2008 5:47pm]

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