Hankering for a peek of what the new Pinellas Bayway bridge will look like? Here's your chance: the state Department of Transportation will host a preview open house for the public Jan. 31. Renderings of the new bridge will be on display and representatives of the DOT will be available to answer questions about the planned bridge replacement project, which will include replacing the existing two-lane drawbridge with a four-lane bridge that will be high enough that opening for marine traffic will not be necessary. There is no formal presentation planned, so plan to drop in anytime during the two-hour session.
The open house is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove, 6800 Sunshine Skyway Lane S, St. Petersburg. For additional information, contact the DOT Public Information Office, (813) 975-6060.
New trail segment at Eckerd College entrance
The recent completion of the Pinellas Trail segment that intersects with the front entrance of the Eckerd College campus at 54th Avenue S/Pinellas Bayway means traffic flowing through the campus entrance must yield to traffic on the trail at all times. Motorists exiting the campus are cautioned to be certain Pinellas Trail traffic is clear before executing the right (eastbound) turn onto 54th Avenue S.
The city has installed a stop sign at the right turn lane used by exiting traffic and Eckerd College will install a speed bump just short of the stop sign. If you're entering the campus from 54th Avenue S/Pinellas Bayway, please slow down and remember Pinellas Trail traffic has the right-of-way, which means vehicles must yield to foot and bicycle traffic.
Right turn lane removal is for pedestrian safety
Reader Wayne Woodmansee commutes daily along Missouri Avenue, and has been puzzled by the work to eliminate the right-turn lanes at a few major intersections. He says the change has added to the wait time at lights and seems to have no benefit other than to impede the traffic flow.
Paul Bertels, Clearwater's traffic operations division manager, told us that the DOT is performing the work along Missouri Avenue as part of a three-part project that involves repairs, retrofits and resurfacing of the roadway. The changes Woodmansee has noticed are being done to improve pedestrian safety.
"The channelized islands are being removed to make pedestrian crossings safer. It used to be thought that the channelized islands known as "pork chop islands" (triangular islands adjacent to right-turn lanes) made it safer for pedestrians as they served as refuges. However, it has been shown at high volume intersections that many times people get trapped on the islands and these particular islands do not serve well as refuges because they're not really big enough," Bertels said.
In order to provide pedestrians with larger islands, additional right of way space would be needed, which the state doesn't have. The solution is that the curbs will be extended outward to create more space at the intersections, which will provide pedestrian crossings without islands.
Repaving signals end of water main replacement
Repaving of Belcher Road from East Bay Drive to Drew Street began last week, which means the water main replacement project is near to being complete. The milling and repaving work will be ongoing this week, give or take a few days depending on weather conditions. Work will be done at night but be prepared for lane closures and delays.
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