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Ask Dr. Delay: Why is Bayside Bridge so bouncy?

What's the deal with the driving surface of the Bayside Bridge? The northbound span can feel like an amusement park ride with waves that bounce vehicles up and down until about the halfway point. The wavy ride is accompanied by the loud clunking of tires hitting the wide spaces in the pavement, which can vary based on the weight of the vehicle. Is this something that needs to be repaired?

According to engineers at Pinellas County Public Works, the rhythmic bouncing effect is created by a series of arches, referred to as "cambers," in the design of the 19-year-old bridge. Cambering is designed such that individual concrete slabs can flex downward to a level position under heavy loads. The bouncing is a common byproduct of bridge spans constructed with concrete slab spans. This particular design was used with the Bayside Bridge to prevent potential sagging or downward sloping.

It seems like it's paving season on Treasure Island, starting with the paving of the Park Place parking lot. What's up next, if anything?

Treasure Island has two weeks of paving and restriping planned at several locations, including the resurfacing of the Treasure Island Community Center parking lot as well as the parking lot at Gulf Boulevard and 100th Avenue. Repaving is also scheduled this week for Yacht Club Drive S on Paradise Island and the Sandpiper parking lot next to the Island Inn. Most work will take place this week with final touches, such as the application of thermoplastic striping, completed by the first week of June.

It sometimes takes over half an hour to cross the Pinellas Bayway because of construction workers intermittently closing and reopening lanes. Why can't they schedule the lane closures, and by the way, how long is this going to go on?

Work on replacing the Pinellas Bayway bridge, which began in February and affects traffic flow between the west end of the Bayway Bridge to State Road 679/ Pinellas Bayway S, will be ongoing until its projected completion date of October 2014. Because the day-to-day work is subject to many factors such as weather conditions and the progress of each phase, it's not possible to schedule lane shifts, and efforts have been made to do the bulk of the work at night. Nightly lane closures are scheduled for Monday through Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. with intermittent lane closures during the week as needed between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Barricade watch

The state Department of Transportation has shifted the traffic pattern on southbound Interstate 75, moving southbound traffic to the northbound lanes at the Bruce B. Downs Boulevard (Exit 270) interchange. Officials say the pattern will remain in place for about a year for construction of a bridge for southbound I-75 traffic. Motorists who have yet to drive the route should look for the southbound exit ramp point a little more to the north than its previous location and use extra caution navigating the new configuration.

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If you're planning to use the Pinellas Bayway today, consider using the Pasadena Avenue or Central Avenue/Treasure Island bridges to get to and from the beaches. Eckerd College will hold its commencement and related festivities, with traffic flowing into the campus entrance beginning at 7 a.m. So expect traffic along 54th Avenue S to be quite heavy most of the day.

Email Ask Dr. Delay at DocDelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions or follow Dr. Delay on Twitter @AskDrDelay. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.

Ask Dr. Delay: Why is Bayside Bridge so bouncy? 05/19/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:43pm]
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