There's a bit of good news for Seminole motorists who have pretty much given up hope of Duhme Road ever being resurfaced. We have been reporting on the sad state of Duhme, a north-south corridor between the Madeira Beach-Bay Pines area and Park Boulevard, for a few years. It's a bumpy, rutted, tooth-rattling hodgepodge of potholes and patches. Work on improving the road has been off and on the county's plan for several years due to budget crunches. It had been slated to coordinate with a utilities project along Duhme and American Legion Drive, a plan touted to be driver-friendly because traffic interruptions due to construction would occur all at once. But the utilities project was completed this summer with no resurfacing of Duhme. So what now?
According to Rob Meador at Pinellas County Public Works, resurfacing is back on track to be done within a year. The contract is being advertised with bids due Oct. 19. Construction generally begins within three or four months after bids are received.
The caveat is that the Duhme Road job is among several projects included in the contract, so we won't know where and when the contractor will begin until a schedule is submitted at the preconstruction conference. Stay tuned, we'll keep you updated.
Visibility on I-275 Exit 30 is adequate, DOT says
Reader MaryJane Callihan asked the Doc to take a swing through the northbound Interstate 275 Exit 30 that leads to eastbound State Road 686/Roosevelt Boulevard during rush hour. Callihan says a cluster of trees and bushes to the left of the ramp obstructs motorists' view of eastbound traffic on Roosevelt until one is well off the ramp trying to merge into traffic.
We took Callihan's challenge and hit I-275 at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, took exit 30 and merged into eastbound traffic. The Doc agrees with Callihan — the view is obstructed, especially for drivers wanting to maneuver into the far left lane for a left turn at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. And as Callihan noted, adding to the issue is the fact that drivers heading east on Roosevelt cannot readily see cars that are on the final run of the ramp.
We asked Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation how the department decides on the parameters of landscaping and visibility. She told us that based on guidelines from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in this case, the sight distance required for a vehicle to safely be able to merge into traffic is 524 feet, based on the speeds of the vehicles on the ramp (45 mph) and on Roosevelt (55 mph).
"From the point where the vehicle on the ramp is clear of the vegetation to the point where the car has to merge into the right lane is approximately 780 feet. Based on this data, this condition meets the FDOT's criteria and no corrective action would be proposed," Carson wrote in an e-mail.
Even though in theory we're told that there is plenty of room and visibility to safely navigate the merge, time of day and traffic conditions add to the level of anxiety. The high speed at which a lot of people travel Roosevelt — well in excess of the posted 55 mph limit —adds to this. Driving the same route in the evening when traffic is fairly light doesn't generate the same sense of trying to merge blindly. The Doc's best advice is to be cautious.
Get Downtown closures will return on Nov. 5
Downtown St. Petersburg drivers should keep in mind that the popular Get Downtown event closes Central Avenue between Second and Third streets the first Friday evening of every month. The event calls for Central to be closed to traffic from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every first Friday. Second and Third streets remain open. The next Get Downtown first Friday is Nov. 5.
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