Both of this week's reader questions are related to the ongoing U.S. 19 improvement project.
Our first letter is from Darlene Edmunds, who commutes to her job on Bryan Dairy Road from her home in St. Petersburg via U.S. 19. Edmunds wrote:
"Dear Doc, it seems lately there are daily changes along the newly constructed highway between 49th Street and Ulmerton Road. Going north I can see and judge the traffic entering from 49th Street as I am ready to exit onto the frontage road to get to Bryan Dairy Road. However, last week the entrance for me to rejoin U.S. 19 from the frontage road as I am heading home (south) in the evening, has become a problem and is a hazard. The frontage road is one lane until almost the 49th Street exit, then suddenly there is an additional lane on the left with traffic exiting for 49th Street at 55 mph. Those wanting to leave the frontage road and get on U.S. 19 have to merge into that lane at 40 mph with the exiting cars on their left coming from behind and at an angle. At dusk this maneuver is dangerous and will probably lead to accidents happening there if they haven't already. Is there anything that can be done about this? Is this a permanent or only a temporary setup?"
We checked in with Kris Carson of the DOT and shared Edmunds' concerns.
Carson said the ramps to and from U.S. 19 have been designed as a continuous lane next to the frontage road, and the pattern Edmunds describes is permanent, so motorists will need to adjust to the new flow.
"This allows motorists to exit from U.S. 19 onto the frontage road and motorists traveling on the frontage road to merge onto U.S. 19. As people become more accustomed to the new ramps, it is expected that traffic will flow more easily in this area," Carson said.
U.S. 19, Pinellas Park
No adjustments planned for Springwood II ramps
We received a letter from Louise B. Clausen, who wrote on behalf of fellow residents of the Springwood II community off U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park. Clausen wrote:
"Dear Dr. Delay, may I call your attention to a deadly dangerous situation on/off U.S. 19 between 110th and 102nd avenues? Recently a right turn lane off the new overpass leading to 49th Street has been opened, entering our secondary road on the drivers' left. Many of us have almost gotten smashed by the cars using this, as there is no yield sign for either road. This is just the latest of many hazards to our only exit. The state of Florida has seen fit to put this so-called 'thruway' over our access to U.S. 19, closing many businesses and making our community's access to U.S. 19 a nightmare."
Carson told us the DOT has no record of crashes occurring in the Springwood II area in relation to the ramp and frontage road running parallel to each other. Work is nearly finished on this section of U.S. 19 between 49th Street and 118th Avenue, and the permanent ramps leading to and from U.S. 19 and the southbound frontage road paralleling it, Carson said, and the ramps just south of the Springwood II community let motorists access U.S. 19, 49th Street and the southbound frontage road. There are no adjustments planned related to the new ramps and the Springwood II community.
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