What is the latest on plans to replace the 50-year-old Pinellas Bayway, which links the beaches to St. Petersburg?
Reader David Hancock asked in a recent e-mail:
"There are a lot of us Isla Del Sol residents who are very curious about the January start of construction of the new bridge. Specifically, how long will it take to drive the pilings on the new span; how long to complete the new span; how long will demolition of the existing span take, and how long will it take to finish the second span?"
We shared the questions with Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation, who told us construction of each span, which should begin in early 2012, is estimated to take about 400 days. Pile driving for the first span is estimated at 150 days. The demolition of the existing bridge will be approximately 150 days and will overlap with construction of the second span. The duration of the contract with the company doing the work is 890 days, nearly 21/2 years, not counting weather delays and holidays.
Keep in mind, as Carson pointed out, that the DOT is not doing the work. The contractor is responsible for the schedule, so these are predictions from the DOT, not specifics that are carved in stone.
Don't forget that September is renewal month for all Pinellas Bayway Commuter Pass transponders. The $50 yearly pass transponder, which allows two-axle vehicles unlimited passage through all three Pinellas Bayway toll plazas without stopping, expires every year Sept. 30, regardless of date of purchase. (Bayway Commuter Pass customers are not eligible for other SunPass discounted toll rates.)
Check out renewal options online at Sunpass.com or call customer service toll-free at 1-888-865-5352. You can also drop by the Pinellas Bayway SunPass Customer Service Center in person from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at 4501 54th Ave S.
Reader Paul Brown of St. Petersburg wrote the Doc recently about drivers failing to pull over and yield to emergency vehicles. Brown wrote: "I have noticed on my travels on Interstate 10 east and west of Tallahassee that the FDOT has huge signs in the median stating that it's the law that traffic must move to the shoulder to yield to emergency vehicles. Why are there none around here, especially before the Sunshine Skyway bridge?
I observed someone yesterday with an out-of-state license plate not slow down when a state trooper and a Road Ranger were assisting a motorist. Maybe we should start putting out reminders now that it's almost tourist season again."
Brown has a point, but do we really need more signs? Even if they were installed around the Tampa Bay area, do you think the folks who currently ignore emergency vehicles and fail to pull over will change their behavior because of more signs? I regularly observe plenty of folks violating this law, no matter the origin of their license plates. What do you think, readers?
Many readers have inquired about the repaving work planned for Duhme Road in Seminole. The improvement is to extend from the Tom Stuart Causeway north to 54th Avenue N and was previously set to begin Sept. 8.
With no signs of work starting, we touched base with Pinellas County Public Works and learned that the schedule to commence work on the road has been pushed to late October.
The work should take about a week, weather permitting, and will involve delays and detours while the milling and resurfacing takes place. The current project date is the week of Oct. 24-30. The Doc will update you if it changes.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
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