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I-4 drilling rigs are for preliminary rail work

Reader Gerald Searle is a frequent traveler on Interstate 4 who has noticed lots of trucks lately parked in the median of the highway between Tampa and Orlando. He says the equipment on the trucks appears to be for drilling for water and he's wondering if his assumption is correct. We asked Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation to fill us in.

Carson told us the trucks are indeed drilling and this "geotechnical" effort is the first sign of work on Florida's trek to open high-speed rail service between Tampa and Orlando, which is scheduled to happen in 2015. You can read more about the project online and sign up to receive e-mailed updates at

Shuttle will make trip to Central Avenue easier

Good news for folks who enjoy all that downtown St. Petersburg has to offer but don't relish looking for parking along Central Avenue or having to move their cars because of time limits. Beginning Oct. 3, the Central Avenue Shuttle will offer expanded transit service between Williams Park and PSTA's Grand Central Station on Central Avenue at 31st Street. The shuttle will make frequent stops along Central Avenue serving businesses, retail and arts venues, making it easier for folks to park in one of the municipal parking garages and hop a trolley.

Both the Central Avenue Shuttle and the Downtown Looper provide cheap transportation around downtown. The fare is 25 cents each time you board and a dime for seniors, the disabled and Medicare cardholders. Kids younger than 5 ride free. Visit for information.

Signal favors busier traffic on Ninth Ave. N

Reader Mitchell J. McConnell wrote the Doc to say that in general he is pleasantly surprised by how well traffic lights are synchronized on 34th Street/U.S. 19 in St. Petersburg. But he's puzzled by the apparent lack of synchronization of the traffic signal at Ninth Avenue N and 37th Street adjacent to the main branch of the public library.

"This is the longest light with no traffic traveling in the other direction that I have encountered. Is there a reason for this, or is it timed so that it and won't change even when there is no opposing traffic?" McConnell asked.

We passed McConnell's question along to Bill Foster, the city's traffic signal coordinator, who told us that the traffic signal at 37th Street and Ninth Avenue N is indeed operated in a coordinated mode.

"What that means is that the traffic signal is timed so that motorists traveling west on Ninth Avenue N leaving the signal at 34th Street will receive the green light when they arrive at 37th Street," Foster said.

Foster said signal coordination must take into account the overall use of a road and is based on the needs of the majority of motorists. Because the volume of traffic on Ninth Avenue N is consistently much heavier than the volume of traffic on 37th Street, the signal is coordinated in favor Ninth Avenue N traffic.

"Unfortunately, vehicles waiting on a small side street experience a longer delay than the vehicles traveling on the main street," he said.

Utility project closes lane on 54th Ave. N

If you are among the many readers wondering about the reason for the lane closure on 54th Avenue N at 28th Street and how long the closure will last, here's the latest: The lane is closed to make way for an underground utility project. The work is being performed by the county as part of a project to improve the intersection. The outside eastbound lane of 54th Avenue N will be closed for about two weeks, a Pinellas County spokesperson said.

Traffic signal work will affect Missouri/Alt. 19

Be prepared for intermittent nightly lane closures from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Missouri Avenue/Alternate 19 at Belleair Road. Workers are installing a new traffic signal hanger at the intersection.

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.

I-4 drilling rigs are for preliminary rail work 09/25/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 25, 2010 4:30am]
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