A fair amount of money was spent to put up the big electronic signs on the Bayside Bridge and McMullen-Booth Road, yet it seems like they are used only for Silver and Amber alerts. As someone who drives this route every day, I would love to see them used in the same manner as the signs on Interstate 275 and I-4 that give you an indication of how long a commute will be. As I crawl forward on the Bayside Bridge every night, it would be helpful to have some information as to how long it will take me to get to Drew Street and Enterprise Road. I would also like to know if there is an accident on U.S. 19. While I don't take that route, any serious accident on U.S. 19 causes people to take McMullen-Booth Road as an alternative route, thereby increasing my drive.
Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs
We shared this question with Ken Jacobs, the county's traffic manager, and asked for an update on plans for the electronic message boards along McMullen-Booth Road and U.S. 19.
Jacobs says the county is in the process of installing technology that will allow county traffic management staff to post travel times and other information for the four major corridors — U.S. 19, McMullen-Booth Road, State Road 60/Gulf-to-Bay and Belcher Road. Other roads under construction that will also have the message boards when completed are State Road 580/Tampa Road and State Road 686/East/West Bay Drive.
Pinellas County's traffic management system is one of just two arterial traffic management systems in Florida that are actively installing the hardware to communicate traffic conditions to motorists, according to Jacobs, who says that once complete, the message boards will provide continual updates to travel time along each route and real-time updates of travel times and incidents or backups on parallel roads, unless they need to be pre-empted by emergency messages.
"Providing travel time to motorist on freeways has been around for some time and is a fairly straightforward mathematical calculation based on the measured average speed of the vehicles passing a specific point. Unfortunately adding traffic signals to the equation makes this calculation much more difficult. It has only been in the last year or two that technology has been available to measure the travel times in a real-time arterial environment," Jacobs wrote in an email last week.
• If you plan to head north on U.S. 19, be alert that northbound lanes of U.S. 19 in Clearwater were shifted last week to the right (east) onto the adjacent northbound service road from north of Haines Bayshore to Harn Boulevard. The northbound left-turn lane for Belleair Road has shifted to the west to avoid the current construction of the overpass. Motorists should expect intermittent delays and congestion as motorists adjust to the new configuration. Suggested alternate routes are Belcher Road or 49th Street to the Bayside Bridge and McMullen-Booth Road.
• The westbound Selmon Expressway Exit 7 is now closed until late February. The state Department of Transportation says motorists need to use Exit 8 (Kennedy Boulevard) or Exit 5 (Plant Avenue) to head to downtown Tampa.
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