Many readers have asked for an update on plans to widen 102nd Avenue from Seminole Boulevard to Antilles Drive in Seminole. Public meetings to discuss the plans and design began several years ago and residents opposed to the project came out in force, objecting to the cost as well as potential impact on the environment and residents of the quiet neighborhoods that line 102nd. Some vigorously questioned the need for widening the road from two to four lanes and circulated petitions opposing the proposal, hoping to sway members of the County Commission back in 2008. Supporters of the road-widening liked the idea of adding sidewalks and bike lanes to smooth access to the Pinellas Trail. It was quite a to-do, but then things got quiet. The recession bore down, priorities around the county shifted dramatically and we haven't heard anything about the project in a long time.
So here's the update: the 102nd Avenue project didn't make it into the county's 10-year capital improvement budget, which runs from fiscal year 2013 to 2022, so it's dead in the water, at least for now. For information on what projects made it into the budget, go to www.pinellascounty.org/budget and follow the links on the left side for fiscal year 2013 and capital improvements.
The "S"-turn connecting 38th Avenue N with 40th Avenue N between First and Fourth Streets has numerous curb cuts for access to Northeast Park Shopping Center with two barely visible crosswalks. Bad as it is to negotiate with all the side traffic entering/exiting, the painted crosswalks and lane markers have long ago worn out, making staying in correct lanes even more difficult. Maybe you can call this to someone's attention.
Mike Frederick, St. Petersburg's manager of transportation planning, says he is very much aware of the pavement marking maintenance issue; he has been working on a plan to replace the three existing mid block pedestrian crosswalks with a traffic control signal to address concerns related to this stretch of road for almost two years.
As the Times' Waveney Ann Moore reported over a year ago, efforts have been in the works for quite some time to secure funding to improve this east-west corridor. Part of these efforts included a roadway safety audit paid for by the state Department of Transportation, which concluded that it is critical to public safety to add median dividers and a new signalized intersection to address the traffic safety issues it found.
The city's proposal seeking $750,000 in federal funds back in 2010 to improve the five-lane section of roadway noted that at that time, more than 20,000 vehicles per day used the road and that safety was compromised due to numerous uncontrolled driveways and intersections, resulting in turning conflicts and crashes. Adding to the concern about vehicle crashes, the proposal cited danger to pedestrians who are at risk due to the volume and speed of the traffic and the absence of a controlled pedestrian crossing.
Now that the funding has been approved, the next step is the bidding process to hire a contractor. In view of this, Frederick says, it's not practical to repaint the markings now when they will be removed in a few months. In the meantime, folks need to be extra careful when traveling this route.
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