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Ask Dr. Delay: New traffic signal arm at 54th Avenue S confounds

We hope this is the last update in a saga sparked by installation of a mast arm traffic signal pole at east/west 54th Avenue S, also known as the Pinellas Bayway/State Road 682, which takes traffic to and from the beaches, and north/south State Road 679, also known as Pinellas Bayway South, which takes motorists to and from Tierra Verde and Fort De Soto Park.

We noted last month that the new mast arm had been installed. Although it looks terrific and no doubt is sturdy and ready for hurricane season, readers have been complaining to the Doc about two issues.

Folks are angry because the state Department of Transportation has erected signs for east/west traffic on the Pinellas Bayway/State Road 682 indicating that motorists can turn onto Sun Boulevard or "SR 679," rather than "Pinellas Bayway South."

This upsets longtime residents and business owners whose mailing addresses have always included "Pinellas Bayway South" rather than "State Road 679."

We noted that westbound State Road 682 bottoms out at the intersection of Gulf Boulevard/State Road 699 in front of the Don CeSar Beach Resort. Southbound motorists at the intersection who are in the left-turn lane to head east toward St. Petersburg will note that the green street sign overhead reads "Pinellas Bayway" rather than "State Road 682." But after turning and traveling east on Pinellas Bayway approaching the intersection, green roadside signs indicate that traffic is approaching "Sun Boulevard" with an arrow pointing to the left and "SR 679," with an arrow pointing right.

Some readers have said they might erect their own signs at the intersection that read "Pinellas Bayway South."

The second issue that has arisen with the new signal is confusion about whether vehicles coming from Tierra Verde and turning right toward St. Petersburg are permitted to make a right turn on a red signal.

Before the new signal was installed, right turns on a red light were forbidden. The only exception to this new freedom to execute a right turn is if pedestrians are waiting to cross. In that case, they will hopefully activate a neon "do not turn right" signal that depicts a right arrow with a red circle and a slash over it. But confusion has continued.

The DOT told us there were plans to install an overhead sign at the intersection reading RIGHT TURN ON RED AFTER STOP. But last week, DOT's Kevin Dunn wrote:

"We have discussed this matter further and feel that the proposed posting of the RIGHT ON RED ARROW AFTER STOP sign, even with a proposed supplemental sign panel that would state UNLESS PROHIBITED (meaning when the NO RIGHT TURN sign would be displayed with a pedestrian activation), would tend to potentially cause more confusion … . We instead now take the position that this signal operation having red arrow signals is not unlike other installations in our area, and once local drivers get used to the change from the previous NO TURN ON RED restriction on this approach, there should be no confusion."

Tyrone/Bay Pines

DOT adjusts signal timing at intersection

Reader Cheryl DeCou said she has noticed quite a bit of red-light running at Park Street and Tyrone/Bay Pines Boulevard. She has observed two, and sometimes three, cars running the red light and was concerned that maybe the signal timing was off, resulting in eastbound traffic on Tyrone/Bay Pines being in the center of the intersection when northbound traffic on Park Street has the green light.

"It's not just a matter of one second; if I am first in line at the light heading northbound on Park Street, I actually have to count to three or four before the intersection is clear."

DOT's Keith Crawford told us the timing has been adjusted, but adds that timing alone cannot keep people from running red lights.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at Questions may be edited for space and clarity.

Ask Dr. Delay: New traffic signal arm at 54th Avenue S confounds 04/30/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 30, 2011 4:30am]
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