If you travel the Howard Frankland bridge regularly, you've noticed the new electronic message boards erected above Interstate 275 that display approximate travel times to key destinations — for example, the estimated number of minutes from the bridge to the airport exit, or to the Interstate 4 junction. But recent changes have thrown some motorists for a loop.
Donovan Myrie, who commutes from St. Petersburg to the University of Tampa, wrote: "For the last couple of months or so, I really came to rely on the new signs for my daily commute from south St. Pete to downtown Tampa.
"If there are problems coming off the Howard Frankland bridge, the sign would tell me so. Any time there were travel problems I could make the decision to get off I-275 on Kennedy Boulevard or avoid the bridge and take Gandy Boulevard."
But now the signs he had relied on as he approached the Howard Frankland were telling him something he didn't need to know — the travel time to Roosevelt Boulevard.
"Why on earth did the DOT think it was a smart idea to suddenly replace the travel time to I-4 with the travel time to Roosevelt Boulevard? I rarely see traffic between Gandy and Roosevelt — even during rush hour.''
We checked in with DOT and asked about the message boards. Terry Hensley, the DOT's traffic incident manager, told us that the Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) are still new in Pinellas. Because it has not been online that long, bugs are still being chased out.
Initially, DOT operators manually posted travel times. A few weeks ago, the DOT's sensors for the Howard Frankland Bridge came online; the travel time information is sent from the sensors directly to the displays.
The reason the display at 54th Avenue N in St. Petersburg no longer has two messages, one with information on the Tampa airport exit and a second to the I-4 junction, is because there are no sensors installed between the two destinations yet.
The DOT is trying to find a way to display both manually entered data and that from sensors.
It'll be more than a year before work is complete
Plenty of folks who travel Gulf Boulevard have contacted the Doc to express their construction fatigue. If it seems like the wait can't end soon enough, the news is not so great.
Reader Dave Affleck wrote in asking specifically about the projected completion date of the work that is ongoing in Indian Shores. Word from the DOT is that construction is projected to be complete a little over a year from now: August 2009.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
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