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Changes coming to First Street N in St. Petersburg

The speed limit on the Belleair Causeway is limited by ordinances in Belleair Bluffs.

PIPER CASTILLO | Times (2012)

The speed limit on the Belleair Causeway is limited by ordinances in Belleair Bluffs.

Drivers who use First Street between Ninth and 22nd avenues N should be aware of upcoming changes to that section of road. The changes were prompted by residents of the immediate area through the neighborhood association, and are slated to be implemented by the city in the near future. Would you please announce the changes as soon as possible so drivers can begin familiarizing themselves with these major changes?

Paul Cooper

We checked in with Michael Frederick at the city of St. Petersburg's transportation department. He confirmed that First Street between Ninth and 22nd avenues N is set to go from two one-way southbound lanes for vehicular traffic to a single lane for southbound vehicles and two bi-directional bike lanes. The one vehicular southbound lane will be in the center of the roadway, bounded by two lanes designated for bicycles. One bike lane will be southbound traveling with vehicular traffic on the west side of the road. The other bike lane will be northbound, traveling against vehicular traffic on the east side. Several northbound stop signs will be installed, which bicyclists will be required to observe.

This change was set into motion when the city received a formal request from the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association to look into conditions on First Street. Frederick said the decision was not arrived at quickly; the city took into account vehicle speeds, traffic volume (both bicycle and vehicle), the road's capacity to handle the traffic volume, and the number of accidents over a period of years. Two public meetings about the proposed changes were held and Frederick says over 90 percent of residents along First Street N joined a petition requesting the change. Planning for the traffic control signs is in its final stages and implementation is coming soon.

Frederick acknowledges the change may not thrill everyone, but that it's the best solution.

"While the concept may not be considered conventional, we have found several areas in the country that have implemented a similar traffic control pattern with success,'' he said. "Typically, this type of lane arrangement has been implemented on one-way routes to better connect bicycle facilities that are otherwise cut off, as is the case with First Street."

Why is the speed limit on the Belleair Causeway 30 mph when the speed limit on the Memorial Causeway connecting Clearwater to Clearwater Beach is 45?

Vesta Gray

The answer to this question starts with a reminder that Pinellas County, including the beach communities, is a patchwork of many municipalities. We asked Robert David, the director of public works at the city of Belleair Bluffs to take this question (the part about the Belleair Causeway) for us. David said city ordinances regulate the speed limit in Belleair Bluffs and the limit within the city shall not exceed 30. The speed limit on the Memorial Causeway is dictated by the city of Clearwater, hence the differing limits.

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

Changes coming to First Street N in St. Petersburg 05/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 9:57am]

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