Monday, February 19, 2018
Transportation

Dr. Delay: Cars speeding around circle near St. Pete armory a concern

We have lived in the vicinity of 30th Avenue S and 37th Street for the past year. This intersection (by the National Guard Armory) has a rotary structure which I refer to as the "circle of death." There are "YIELD" signs in place, but the majority of motorists seem to believe this means "drive as fast as you can and bluff everyone else."

Recently there was a portable sign on the northbound portion of 37th Street with a "Yield at intersection'' message, but that lasted a week or two at best. I was told that years ago this was a regular four-way stop and it makes me wonder why that was ever changed. I will go out of my way to avoid this intersection because each encounter is an adventure I don't really need. Does the city have any plans for this intersection and/or rationale as to why they made the change in the first place?

Bob Mathews

This may be mastery of the obvious, but the bottom line here is that options for modifying the bad behavior of motorists are limited. Those include traditional approaches such as increased law enforcement on the scene, motorist education through use of the digital signs you referred to that display vehicle speed, and engineering. The last one — engineering — is complicated at best and subject to state and federal requirements for a traffic circle, which prohibit an all-way stop option at this location. Those of us who have been around long enough to recall, know that there indeed used to be a four-way stop set-up at this location. It was modified to a traffic circle in response to the number of serious right-angled crashes that were taking place.

We touched base with Mike Frederick, the city of St. Petersburg's manager of transportation, and asked him to fill us in on this particular traffic circle.

Frederick said employees of the city's transportation department have been monitoring the conditions at this particular intersection for some time. The monitoring has spanned several years and includes a review of the average speeds of vehicles approaching the traffic circle and the number of reported crashes.

Monitoring has confirmed that people are speeding along the entire 37th Street S corridor and these higher speeds include vehicles moving through the traffic circle. This finding prompted the transportation department to use the mounted radar sign that displays speeds to drivers on a number of occasions and alert the police, requesting stepped-up law enforcement presence in the area, which Frederick says, has taken place.

Frederick says four single-car crashes and four right-of-way (multivehicle) crashes have taken place in the location of the traffic circle in the past three years. This may seem like a lot, but it's far fewer than the number of collisions that took place back in the four-way stop days.

"While this does not represent a severe or recurring issue, generally yielding and right-of-way are of concern at all traffic circles. Motorists don't always follow the legal requirements of yielding to traffic in the circle when approaching, and this can cause concern for users, especially when speeds are higher than desired," Frederick said. The city's transportation staff will continue to monitor the circle and work on the concerns in partnership with the police department.

Barricade watch

Dunedin's Cinco de Mayo celebration will close part of Main Street overnight next weekend from the Pinellas Trail to Douglas Avenue. The closure will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday. The road will be reopened until 1 p.m. Sunday, when it is closed again to make way for the festivities until 7 a.m. Monday.

Email Dr. Delay at [email protected] to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions or follow Dr. Delay on Twitter @AskDrDelay.

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