Monday, December 11, 2017
Transportation

Changes coming to Fourth Street S near hospital complex

Several months ago (last summer) there was mention of changing the one-way portion of Fourth Street from Sixth Avenue S two blocks north to two-way so that one traveling north on Fourth Street S could get on Interstate 275 without having to drive through the Bayfront Hospital and All Children's Hospital area. This has been a major issue with all of the pedestrians and hospital traffic. What's happening?

Bill Wear

The Doc did indeed cover this traffic muddle last summer, which affects both vehicle and foot traffic in what has become a bustling healthcare and education district. We reported in June that the city's transportation team has been working with the state Department of Transportation on the conversion of Fourth Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues S from a one-way to two-way street for a few years. At that time, the proposal had been approved by both the state DOT and the Federal Highway Administration.

The next and final step was approval of the construction permit, which, according to Mike Frederick, the city's transportation manager, would green-light the project once it came through, as funding was available.

We touched base with Frederick last week for an update. He says the approval phase has taken longer than anticipated because this is a multi-jurisdictional project involving several agencies. The good news is that all systems are go. Here's the latest: the plans have been approval by all parties, work will be scheduled with the upcoming annual resurfacing contract, which was awarded by the City Council earlier this month. The contractor is expected to begin work on road segments in the downtown area by the end of February/early March, following the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and other previously scheduled special events. Frederick says the conversion of Fourth Street from one-way to two-way will be sequenced within this time line. This will include adjustments to the new traffic signals at Fifth Avenue S and Fourth Avenue S to coordinate for the two-way conversion. Once work starts, Frederick says, the conversion should take about three months to complete, so we should see the project wrap up in the spring or early summer.

Is it true that access to U.S. 19 from Enterprise Road east will no longer be allowed in the near future? Thanks for any information you can provide.

Marilyn Barnes

Yes, it's true. This question references the $17 million construction project on U.S. 19 N between Sunset Point Road and Countryside Boulevard, which began in July. The plan includes removing the traffic signal at U.S. 19 and Enterprise Road, and the permanent closure of the intersection. Additionally, according to Kris Carson of the state DOT, left turns from Enterprise Road onto U.S. 19 will no longer be permitted. East/west traffic will also not be able to cross over U.S. 19 from Enterprise Road.

The plan is to build a concrete barrier in the median of U.S. 19 that will be similar to the median barrier north and south of the intersection. Carson says one-way frontage roads parallel to U.S. 19 will be built, connecting the existing frontage roads from Sunset Point Road to Countryside Boulevard. Work is expected to be complete in early 2015.

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