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Ask Dr. Delay: Why no crosswalks at busy Seminole intersection?

I would like to know why there are no pedestrian crosswalks at 113th Street and 102nd Avenue N in Seminole. It's a very busy intersection and it would be very helpful for people crossing the streets; we have Walsingham Park and the Pinellas Trail to the west; to the south is St. Petersburg College, the post office, the recreation center; and going east to Seminole Boulevard is a shopping center.

Linda Poynter

A spokesman for the county's traffic engineering department says that several similar requests have been received from residents who have asked for crosswalks at this location, but due to the current layout and design of the intersection, it's not as easy as pouring some concrete. And there's also the matter of consensus and money.

Longtime residents of this area may recall that a project to widen 102nd Avenue N was part of Pinellas County's capital improvement plan, which included adding crosswalks at 102nd Avenue and 113th Street N. But at public meetings held to discuss the plan, it was clear that widening 102nd just didn't sit well with many residents along the corridor. The project was eventually sidelined and the money set aside for it was directed elsewhere.

But it's not a dead issue. There's a proposed 102nd Avenue improvement currently under consideration that would involve 102nd Avenue N from 113th Street N to Seminole Boulevard and a sidewalk crossing would be included. But it's down the road a bit; the tentative time frame to create a design is sometime in 2014 or 2015. Pinellas County's current 10-year capital improvement plan calls for improvements such as intersection enhancement and construction of pedestrian medians at four locations along 102nd Avenue N at 118th and 119th Streets. Browse through the plan at tinyurl.com/l2hy9hd.

I'm one of the many folks who commute from Seminole to St. Petersburg daily. When I take the I-175 exit where it intersects Fourth Street S in St. Petersburg, the traffic coming from I-175 often has to get over two lanes to turn south on Fourth Street. There isn't much room to do that, and the problem is exacerbated by the traffic coming along to the right from Fifth Avenue S. The traffic on Fifth Avenue S only has a yield sign, and so the cars usually go straight through exactly where the traffic from I-175 is trying to get over two lanes. There is less than a block for this merging of cars. Do you know why there isn't a stop sign at Fifth Avenue S?

Heather Henkel

We asked the folks at the state Department of Transportation to give us some background on the configuration of the I-175 exit onto Fifth Avenue S. Kevin Dunn, an administrator with traffic operations, told us that the DOT adheres to the federal manual on uniform traffic control, which stipulates that a stop sign should only be installed when a full stop is always required.

"Since exiting traffic from I-175 wishing to turn right onto Fourth Street S has to perform lane change maneuvers in conflict with traffic on Fifth Avenue S, a yield sign is posted on the exit ramp intended for traffic planning to turn right onto Fourth Street S. While there may be traffic conflicts at times due to these lane change maneuvers, both the ramp and Fifth Avenue S traffic have a posted speed limit of 30 mph that should afford traffic to avoid any conflicts, and we have no crash history that implies that this has been a safety problem area."

Dunn said that traffic exiting I-175 could be prevented from turning right onto Fourth Street S by requiring vehicles to turn right onto Third Street S, but this would mean a circuitous route back to Fourth Street S. This would only be considered if a crash history established such a need.

Email Dr. Delay at docdelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, or follow Dr. Delay on Twitter @AskDrDelay.

Ask Dr. Delay: Why no crosswalks at busy Seminole intersection? 07/06/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 5, 2013 3:44pm]
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