You're not alone if Roosevelt Boulevard and Ulmerton Road combine to make your daily commute seem like an asphalt version of Dante's Inferno.
Reader Heather Dixon wrote: "My husband and I live in Feather Sound. We have never understood why the traffic engineers have the traffic light green for both Ulmerton Road and Roosevelt Boulevard (going west) at the same time. I travel that route every morning and almost every day see a near-collision from traffic trying to merge both left and right near the Chick-fil-A. Why don't they let traffic on Roosevelt go so those cars have free access to all the lanes, then let traffic on Ulmerton go and have free access to all lanes?"
Kris Carson of the DOT acknowledged that both roads are backed up most days, but said alternating the signals as suggested would aggravate the problem.
"While the merging is uncomfortable, it is preferred over alternating. Presently each road has to stop for the signal at 34th Street. That stop is relatively short. If the stop is increased by the amount of time Roosevelt (traffic) would wait for Ulmerton traffic to clear the intersection, the line on Roosevelt would accumulate many more cars. Conversely, when Roosevelt got the green, the accumulation of Ulmerton would be much greater," Carson said.
Our reader also inquired about the intersection of U.S. 19 and 110th Avenue, where construction of an overpass creates daily traffic snarls. Couldn't that traffic be alternated?
Dixon asked: "I wonder why they don't have traffic go one direction first (while the other has a red light) and then reverse it? When people are turning from 110th Avenue onto U.S. 19, other cars are going around them while stopped motorists wait for clearance (not realizing that they may be going into the path of another turning car from the opposite direction) or people get stuck in the middle during a red light, thus limiting visibility."
Carson said Pinellas County traffic engineering staffers have made several adjustments to get the most efficient operation at 110th and U.S. 19, but working around a mammoth construction project such as the one on U.S. 19 isn't simple.
"When construction of this nature starts, the detection equipment is destroyed. During construction the signal operates with intervals that are preset instead of adjusting to traffic flow, as it would normally. Signal timing is based on getting the most cars through an intersection except when provisions are made for safety for pedestrians or turning vehicles. The emphasis is on moving the major road (U.S. 19 in this case) due to the negative impacts experienced when large volumes of vehicles are delayed more than is necessary," Carson said. The good news is that the construction will be completed at some point, and the traffic flow will return to a more even pattern.
Park Boulevard Bridge
Work to close span at night through Jan. 24
Nighttime closure of the Park Boulevard Bridge for road work will continue nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Jan. 24. The completion date is subject to change based on weather and other variables. The alternative routes for motorists west of the Intracoastal Waterway are north on Gulf Boulevard and east over the Indian Rocks Beach Bridge, or south on Gulf Boulevard and east over the Welch Causeway. For motorists east of the Intracoastal Waterway, the alternate route is north on Oakhurst Road to Walsingham Road, then west over the Indian Rocks Bridge. Boaters should note that the Coast Guard has issued a notice to commercial mariners and pleasure craft owners that the bridge will be locked down from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Thursday. Vessels that can get through the channel without the bridge opening can proceed through as usual.
Until next week, drive safely and happy motoring!
Please e-mail Dr. Delay at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.