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Ask Dr. Delay: Road construction signs must follow protocol

What's the story with road construction signs? Do workers just slap signs up wherever? It may seem that way sometimes. And as reader and small business owner Bruce D. Bayes notes, we are dealing with extensive road construction in some parts of Pinellas County. In his case it is happening on every main street that accesses his wheelchair business in Largo. He says he can deal with the road work, but what he can't figure out is why there are "Road closed" signs along sections of Bryan Dairy Road that make it seem as if side roads are closed.

"If someone is traveling north on 66th Street and makes a left turn onto Bryan Dairy Road, they will rapidly merge from five to two lanes by the time they get to 72nd Street. The problem is there are two "Road closed" signs at 72nd Street so motorists wanting to turn right at 72nd often don't seem to think they can because of the sign," Bayes wrote. He says he has come close to being rear-ended while turning onto 72nd Street from Bryan Dairy because vehicles behind him must assume the road is closed.

We asked Pinellas County's Pete Yauch to address sign positioning. He told us that safely guiding motorists through work zones is one of the most difficult and important things traffic engineers do. They must take into consideration the varying skills and familiarity with the road of all drivers, especially through frequently changing traffic patterns as work areas change.

"When I was young and just learning to drive, construction zones typically used kerosene torches in hazardous areas,'' he said. "In the years since then, the task of driving has become much more difficult. As a result, contractors are required to provide for a safe work zone using national guidelines."

Pinellas County follows standards established by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The manual defines and dictates which signs should be used where in a standard format so there are consistent visual cues recognizable to motorists. In the case of the signs along Bryan Dairy Road, as with Belcher and Ulmerton roads, the signs are positioned by design.

Striping must be fixed

Now that Duhme Road in Seminole has been repaved, readers have turned their attention to the intersection of Duhme and American Legion Drive, which runs behind the Madeira Beach Shopping Center. American Legion Drive seems to have been reduced from two exiting lanes feeding traffic onto Duhme with one lane for incoming traffic to one lane out and one lane in. During morning rush hour, southbound traffic backs up on Duhme as turning vehicles move from American Legion Drive onto Duhme. Freshly painted lane markings are to blame for the missing second exit lane, which leads to drivers on American Legion Drive choosing to straddle the double yellow line to make room for two cars or block the flow of traffic altogether. We alerted the folks at the county and learned that contractor oversight is the culprit. The striping should be corrected soon.

Barricade watch

• Pinellas Park: The intersection of 74th Avenue N and 34th Street will be closed for construction for about a month. Look for reopening sometime in mid December.

• Pinellas Park: The 6100 block of 62nd Avenue N will be reduced to one lane from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for about a month.

• St. Petersburg: Motorists using the U.S. 19 entrance ramp to access southbound I-275/U.S. 19 toward the Sunshine Skyway must find an alternate route for the next two weeks due to ramp resurfacing. Alternate routes are traveling east on 54th Avenue S, south on 31st Street S, then west on Pinellas Point Drive (66th Avenue S) to the entrance ramp.

Email to share traffic concerns or questions. Questions may be edited for space and clarity.

Ask Dr. Delay: Road construction signs must follow protocol 11/19/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 19, 2011 3:30am]
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