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Changes coming for Fourth Street S and I-175 entrance

Q: How do we go about getting the traffic on Fourth Street S to be allowed to travel farther north to gain access to the Interstate 175 entrance ramp? Not being able to do so leads to everyone making a left at Sixth Avenue S and cutting over to Sixth Street to access the ramp. This has disaster written all over it. It requires thousands of cars to drive right through the All Children's Hospital property where there is constant pedestrian traffic. Many times the vehicular traffic is speeding as everyone is in a rush to get to work. Seems like an easy fix by simply allowing traffic to travel about 200 yards farther up Fourth Street.

A: The Doc touched base with Michael Frederick, St. Petersburg's manager of neighborhood transportation, as well as representatives of the state Department of Transportation. Frederick told us the two entities have been working on the conversion of Fourth Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues S from a one-way to a two-way street for a few years. The conversion proposal has been approved by both the DOT and the Federal Highway Administration. The next and final step is approval of the construction permit.

"Once that is received, the project is funded and awaiting implementation. We are ready to start work immediately and it should be completed in approximately three months,'' Frederick said. A public announcement will be made once the project receives its official green light and a work schedule has been finalized. Frederick said he's looking forward to seeing the plan come to fruition in the redirection of traffic away from both the hospital and education districts.

Q: We who live near the intersection of Pasadena Avenue and Gulfport Boulevard have documented many times when ambulances seem to go full-siren, dodging traffic only to clear the intersection by our condos. Many times these ambulances then turn off all emergency lights and sirens and go quietly down Central Avenue, Fifth Avenue N or Ninth Avenue N. They never sit for the light going north after leaving Palms of Pasadena. What is the law on constant use of drastic measures that scare and threaten other drivers?

A: Obviously, no two incidents are the same; we can't know what's happening with each individual emergency vehicle. This issue has come up in conversations the Doc has had with emergency responders over the years, one of which was initiated because the Doc had a similar experience, pulling over to make way for an emergency vehicle only to see its lights go off after it had cleared the intersection. Two blocks later the same emergency vehicle turned into a fast food drive-through. But while it may seem like there's some monkey business going on, more often the fact is that a call to 911 can dispatch several emergency vehicles to the same scene, so if you see an ambulance or fire truck suddenly turn off its lights and the siren goes silent, chances are the vehicle has been instructed to stand down because another crew will arrive on the scene sooner.

Safety guide available for state's older drivers

The Florida Safe Mobility for Life Coalition has released a free guide designed to provide information and resources to older drivers. The Florida Guide for Aging Drivers includes safe driving tips and contact information for community resources for older drivers statewide. The guide may be obtained by visiting safeandmobileseniors.org or calling (850) 410-5414.

Email 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.

Changes coming for Fourth Street S and I-175 entrance 06/23/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 23, 2012 4:30am]
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