Reader Ted Szlachetka sent the Doc an e-mail last week about some particularly nasty manhole craters on 22nd Avenue S in St. Petersburg, so I took a ride through the area and have to agree with him. Szlachetka wrote:
"Dear Dr. Delay, I'm writing to you about a condition which exists on 22nd Avenue S between 38th and 41st Street S. In the eastbound lane across from the Thurgood Marshall School, and alongside the golf course, there are two manholes in the road with covers which are so deep and recessed that when you hit the holes, you'd swear your suspension was going to fall off. They are difficult to avoid, especially at night, without clipping the curb or causing an accident. As a frequent traveler of that road, I hate to think what the cumulative effect of several encounters with these holes will be on my car and on others."
After checking out the road, we passed Szlachetka's concerns to the folks at the DOT, as that particular section of 22nd Avenue S is a state road. In the meantime, we'll keep an eye on the craters and our fingers crossed that they will get some filler around the rims soon.
Bridge work preventive, not owing to inspection
Last week's announcement of the project to improve the Pinellas Bayway bridge generated reader questions about the bridge's age and condition. Some wondered whether repairs were being done because an inspection turned up structural concerns similar to issues that recently closed the old Gandy Bridge/Freedom Trail.
DOT's Kris Carson said $1.1 million in upcoming repairs to the nearly 50-year-old bridge is preventive maintenance, not the result of an inspection finding.
We also asked Carson for an update on plans to replace the bridge, which was announced back in 2001. At the time, plans to build a higher (65-foot), fixed-span bridge seemed a go, and work was scheduled to begin in 2003. But funding problems arose, and the project has been on hold since. Carson said replacing the bridge is not funded or scheduled but is still alive.
The DOT has been working with a Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization committee since last July to develop a funding plan to replace the Pinellas Bayway and the Tierra Verde bridges in the next five years. The task force includes state Rep. Jim Frishe and elected officials from Pinellas County, St. Pete Beach and St. Petersburg.
Work on replacing the two aging bridges can start only after a funding plan and the required legislation are in place. Even if money were available today and allowed work within the next year, the current repair project is necessary to maintain the bridge at what Carson called "an acceptable operational service level" for the next five years while the new bridge would be completed.
U.S. 19 flyovers
Rough road will smooth out soon for commuters
Work to build the new U.S. 19 flyovers at 110th and 118th avenues N has been tedious for daily commuters. Some folks have asked whether the project was completed because it appeared to be, but the flyovers still seemed a mess and the lanes awfully narrow.
Reader Devon Preidis wrote to complain about the work, but after driving the area a second time realized the road was still quite rough because workers are building another section. "When they are finished we will then have three lanes heading in each direction with safety space, and they will lay the last layer of asphalt at that time! Dummy me!" Preidis said. No, you're not a dummy, just maybe a tad impatient. There are no dumb questions here, so keep them coming.
Please e-mail Dr. Delay at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Check out Dr. Delay's Bay News 9 blog at www.baynews9.com/DrDelay.html to read more about commuting issues.