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Ask Dr. Delay: Ramp signs at I-275 and 118th Avenue confuse readers

The Doc asked readers a few weeks ago for feedback on the recently opened ramp that leads Interstate 275 traffic to 118th Avenue. Boy, oh boy, did we get feedback! The consensus is that while the ramp is great, most readers say the signs are not so hot. Here's an example of the theme of the many notes we've received on this issue:

Reader Marc Westergard wrote: "The access to Bryan Dairy Road from northbound U.S. 19 could use a sign change on the frontage road. The off-ramp includes 110th Avenue N, Bryan Dairy Road and 126th Avenue N. The signage up to the 110th Avenue intersection is clear, but after you go through the 110th Avenue intersection, the two-lane frontage road splits into a northbound on-ramp for U.S. 19 and a one-lane frontage road. The northbound on-ramp is clearly marked, but the remaining frontage road lane just says Frontage Road. The impression made by this is that you have somehow missed the way to Bryan Dairy and are now on a local frontage road."

We've been sharing reader mail on the new ramp with the Florida Department of Transportation and heard back from Kevin L. Dunn, the district's sign and pavement marking manager, regarding Westergard's e-mail. Dunn noted that the DOT sign located on the northbound Frontage Road approaching the 110th Avenue N intersection is intended to inform motorists that Bryan Dairy Road, 118th Avenue N, and 126th Avenue N can be reached by remaining on the frontage road.

The second sign display (which many readers have written in to say they would like to have amended to repeat the Frontage Road information) is located north of the 110th Avenue N intersection positioned at the on-ramp to get back on U.S. 19, and is intended, Dunn says, to differentiate between the lane for the on-ramp and the lane for the continuation of the frontage road.

"Since we had just provided information relative to Bryan Dairy Road, 118th Avenue N, and 126th Avenue N being reachable by remaining on the frontage road to the north of 110th Avenue N, we did not think it necessary to repeat this information on the frontage road sign positioned at the on-ramp. And since motorists will have not yet reached Bryan Dairy Road, 118th Avenue N, or 126th Avenue N, we do not think this frontage road sign positioned at the on-ramp should cause any confusion, and does not need to be changed."

Dunn said that the cantilever sign structure at the on-ramp was specifically designed for the sizes of the two sign panels, and the frontage road panel shown on approach to 110th Avenue N is much larger than the frontage road sign panel shown at the on-ramp. Changing the sign would require replacement of the entire sign structure at a cost of $90,000 — not prudent use of public money, Dunn said.

• • •

While we're on the topic of DOT signs, Michael McKelvey wrote to ask about the lifespan of old highway signs, the ones that note the former name or number of roads with "OLD." McKelvey asked: "When is the FDOT going to remove the 'OLD' exit number signs along I-275 in Pinellas County? I believe this is the only place in the state where such signs remain."

DOT's Kris Carson told us that the statewide project that changed the consecutive exit numbers to a milepost system (back in 2002) originally included a future project to be initiated after a two-year period that would have removed these "OLD" number panels.

"However, this additional cost expenditure was not deemed to be prudent, so the project was dropped. We were told to just have these "OLD" number panels removed when other work was performed on these sign structures or they were included in future projects. Unfortunately, we have apparently had few opportunities to perform such work on sections of I-275. They will be removed when we need to make changes to the signs," Carson said.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

E-mail Dr. Delay at docdelay@yahoo.com to share your traffic concerns, comments or questions. Questions may be edited for space and clarity.

Ask Dr. Delay: Ramp signs at I-275 and 118th Avenue confuse readers 02/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 26, 2011 3:30am]
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