How do our roads end up looking the way they do in terms of lane width and aesthetic design? Randy Syracuse of Indian Rocks Beach recently asked about planning in Pinellas County with two specific projects in mind: the Belleair Causeway Bridge and upgrades to Walsingham Road.
"Isn't it rather short-sighted to redo these as two lanes instead of four lanes? Certainly the amount of traffic using these routes would justify four lanes."
We shared this question with the county's public works folks and heard back from Robert C. Meador, division manager of the transportation planning department. Meador told us that long-range planning is a function of the Metropolitan Planning Organization. The county, each municipality within Pinellas, and the Florida Department of Transportation each play a significant role in evaluating current and future conditions and identifying transportation needs. Factors include modes of transportation, existing and future land use plans, population trends and development, and revenue projections.
The Belleair Causeway Bridge was widened to meet current bridge standards and future evacuation needs and is not considered the major traffic route to the barrier islands, Meador said. Which roads are considered major routes to and from the beaches? State Road 60 (Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard), Ulmerton Road and Park Boulevard, due to their capacity, connection to interstate routes and cross-bay access.
"That segment of Walsingham Road is classified as a collector roadway with reasonably low traffic volumes and a relatively finite traffic demand due to the fact it terminates at Seminole Boulevard with no connections further east. Future traffic demands on that segment of roadway are not projected to increase significantly," Meador wrote, adding that the intent of the Walsingham improvements was to get the roadway up to current design standards and to improve pedestrian access to the Pinellas Trail, Walsingham Park, and commercial and neighborhood areas.
If you are interested in taking a look at the 2035 long-range transportation plan, visit pinellascounty.org/mpo and click on "Long Range Trans. Plan."
Mysteriously missing posts to return soon
The disappearance of flexible posts in the road at Park Street and Central Avenue has concerned several readers.
The posts thwarted folks in the right-turn-only lane heading toward Treasure Island from changing their minds and driving straight ahead (southbound). Readers have said there have been several close calls with vehicles merging abruptly into the one southbound through lane now that there are no barriers.
Reader Sally Chesnes wrote:
"There used to be two or three posts at the Park Street and Central Avenue light that prevented cars in the right-turn-only lane from going straight. Now they're gone and I've seen many near misses."
We passed the inquiry on to traffic engineers at Pinellas County Public Works. While no one seems to know what happened to the delineators, as they are called, the county is aware of the issue and the posts should be replaced very soon.
Coolest car pool will win some mighty cool prizes
The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority is looking for the coolest car pool group in Tampa Bay. If you think your gang is the coolest, make a video that proves it and send it in. The contest runs until Sept. 6 and winners will drive away with prizes that include a Kindle, GPS system, digital camera or iPod. Visit the TBARTA website for sample videos, rules and information at coolestcarpool.com.
Doc Delay is on Twitter! Get news from the road at www.twitter.com/DocDelay. Please e-mail Dr. Delay at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.