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Changes should ease congestion caused by signal at 118th Avenue N, 34th Street

The new traffic signal at 118th Avenue N and 34th Street near Pinellas Park is not loved by commuters. Readers complain about the signal, using terms such as "idiotic," "horrible," and "hideous morning nightmare."

The signal has created delays and frustration during the morning commute along 118th Avenue from U.S. 19 to the Interstate 275 on-ramp.

"Before this light was activated, I could make a right on 118th Avenue from 49th Street and reach the I-275 on-ramp in less than five minutes. Now it takes a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes to reach the on-ramp and that is directly attributable to the new light," said Patrick Ferrell.

We took a ride through the area during rush hour and felt Ferrell's pain. We asked the state Department of Transportation to fill us in.

Spokesperson John McShaffrey told us he is aware of the problems with the new signal, which was installed as part of the ongoing project to build a connection from northbound I-275 to westbound 118th Avenue. Signal timing is often complex, but even more so in a construction area, McShaffrey said. The DOT is working with Pinellas County to adjust signal timers, use different traffic sensors, add traffic sensing loops and make programming changes.

Factors that have contributed to the problem include current construction at 31st Court, which eliminated the dedicated eastbound right turn lane, slowing down the flow of right-turn movement onto the ramp to I-275. This has created longer queues, so during peak times, vehicles extend back to 34th Street.

McShaffrey said the addition of the new right turn lane at 31st Court will give motorists a freer-flowing right-turn movement and reduce the vehicles in the right lane. Also, improvements being made at 34th Street will allow more eastbound traffic through to 31st Street.

58th Street S

Flashing beacon system is set for Pinellas Trail

Users of Pinellas Trail have asked whether there are plans to add a crosswalk at four-lane 58th Street S where it intersects with the trail.

Connecting Gulfport to Central Avenue, 58th Street is a heavily used north-south corridor, and vehicles often travel on it at high speeds.

"As a pedestrian trying to cross 58th Street at the trail, I see a car at a distance and it looks safe to cross but cars are speeding up to the trail and sometimes I feel I have to dodge these vehicles. Sometimes I can see into vehicles and the driver is not paying attention; usually they're on the phone or they are getting hit with sun glare," wrote reader Leonardo Robledo.

Mike Frederick, St. Petersburg's manager of neighborhood transportation, said there is a plan to install a flashing beacon crosswalk on 58th Street at the trail. Frederick said it is part of a federally funded program that also paid for the recent installation of a flashing beacon crosswalk system at 49th Street and the trail. Work on the 58th Street intersection will begin soon and should be completed by the end of the year.

Trick-or-treaters, Komen walkers need attention

If you plan to be on the road this evening, don't forget there will be little ones dashing from house to house and across streets on their trick-or-treating routes. Turn your headlights on and your stereo off, and use extra caution so that this is a safe and fun Halloween for everyone.

Also, be aware that today is the third and final day of the annual Susan G. Komen Tampa Bay 3-Day for the Cure walk. Walkers will follow a route from Walter Fuller Park toward downtown St. Petersburg, ending at the Pier for a 5 p.m. closing ceremony at Spa Beach Park. Bayshore Drive NE will be closed from Second Avenue NE to Fifth Avenue NE from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. today to provide a staging area for participants before they make their final approach to Spa Beach Park. Walkers will use sidewalks, and traffic flow should not be affected except for the closed section of Bayshore, but be alert for slowdowns.

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at docdelay@yahoo.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.

Changes should ease congestion caused by signal at 118th Avenue N, 34th Street 10/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 29, 2010 3:57pm]
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