I traveled west on Ulmerton about 4:40 p.m. on two occasions this past week. The light at Starkey Road was green, but traffic couldn't proceed because traffic was so backed up. I understand that construction on Ulmerton Road will last another year, but why can't traffic lights between Belcher and Ridge roads be synched to help traffic move along? It seems side streets control the flow of traffic too much.
Ken Jacobs of Pinellas County's infrastructure department says Ulmerton Road is a significant traffic management challenge right now because of the current phase of construction, which, unfortunately, requires the closure of lanes during peak traffic periods. And while it may not seem so, technicians from the county's traffic management center have been monitoring the road and making adjustments in real time in response to conditions. County workers have also been on-site keeping an eye on things, but the influx of seasonal traffic is making the already tall order of keeping traffic moving through the construction zone an even taller order.
"We have and continue to have technicians in the field making modifications to the timing to try and relieve any backups, but the majority of these issues are due to the decrease in capacity caused by the lane closures," Jacobs said.
The state Department of Transportation has suspended interstate closures in the bay area during the official Thanksgiving holiday period, which extends through Monday morning. Suspensions include Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando and Pasco counties. The only exception is a few closures on the Selmon Expressway and 20th, 21st, and 22nd Streets under the expressway.
Toy Run today
The annual Jim's Harley-Davidson Toy Run hits the road today starting at 10 a.m. at Jim's Harley-Davidson at 54th Avenue N and 28th Street. More than 500 motorcycle riders are expected to participate in the charity ride, which benefits area schools with gifts for the holidays. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and St. Petersburg Police Department will partner to manage the ride route as it progresses.
Here's an overview of the route: Riders will head west on 54th Avenue N to Park Street, then south to the intersection of Park and Bay Pines Boulevard. They will turn right, then head west on Bay Pines Boulevard out to the beach, then head south along Gulf Boulevard all the way to Pass-a-Grille, loop around the end of Pass-a-Grille and head north back up Gulf Boulevard to the causeway at Pasadena Avenue. From there, they will turn right onto First Avenue S and proceed to 28th Street, turn left and head back to Jim's Harley-Davidson.
Organizers say motorists should expect delays and be alert to crossings at intersections due to the large number of participants, particularly along 28th Street and Pasadena Avenue. To avoid the rider route, stay east of 28th Street or use the interstate between 10 a.m. and noon.
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