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New 54th Ave. S traffic signal still flusters motorists

Readers continue to contact the Doc regarding the new mast arm traffic signal at east/west 54th Avenue S, also known as the Pinellas Bayway/State Road 682, which takes traffic to and from the beaches, and north/south State Road 679, also known as Pinellas Bayway S, which takes motorists to and from Tierra Verde and Fort De Soto Park.

The new signal confused drivers accustomed to the longtime prohibition against turning right on red when coming from Tierra Verde and turning right toward St. Petersburg. Before the new signal, right turns on red were forbidden. Now vehicles can turn right after stopping. The exception is if pedestrians are waiting to cross and activate a neon NO RIGHT TURN signal that depicts a right arrow with a red circle and a slash over it. Still, confusion has continued.

At one point the state Department of Transportation planned to install an overhead sign but concluded that posting a RIGHT ON RED ARROW AFTER STOP sign, even with a supplemental sign that would read: UNLESS PROHIBITED (meaning when the NO RIGHT TURN sign is displayed with a pedestrian activation), would cause more confusion.

Because the signal (having red arrow signals) is similar to others in the area, the DOT concluded that drivers would became accustomed to the change.

Reader Tom Rodgers wrote recently to say the intersection is still a problem. "I have always regarded (the red arrow) as a 'no turn on red' indicator. However, now that there is an added indicator, one for pedestrians crossing that has a slashed circle with an arrow inside forbidding turns, we are told that the red arrow permits a complete stop and then a turn. If that is true, it is very dangerous. The driver of a vehicle intending to turn east at that intersection does not have a clear view to the west of oncoming traffic. The view is blocked either by the vehicle directly to the left (it is a two-lane turn) or by the two lanes of vehicles to the west, one for left turns toward St. Pete Beach and the other to go straight across to Sun Boulevard or to also go west. Please clarify the proper procedure."

We asked Kris Carson of the DOT to respond:

"When the red right turn arrow signals are displayed, once a northbound vehicle in the right-turn lanes comes to a complete stop at the stop bar, they can then move forward adjacent to the triangularly shaped striped island in order to gain sight distance of eastbound vehicles and then complete their right turn when safe to do so, first also yielding to any pedestrians that may be in the crosswalk," Carson responded.

Someday, all toll plazas will be run electronically

Here's a followup on the Pinellas Bayway toll plaza. Reader Domonick Falkenstein asked if the tolls will ever be converted to all-electronic tolling, where motorists who pass through without SunPasses are billed via mail. Falkenstein likes the idea: "Time saved, fuel saved, less stress, pollution decreased, increased time spent fishing, and backups gone. It's a win-win for all."

Christa Deason of the DOT told us that eventually, all state-owned toll facilities will transition to all-electronic tolling. But the transition is a long way off.

Barricade watch

Here's some road work to be aware of:

There's lots of work going on along 49th Street N to include sidewalk construction from 38th Avenue to Lake Boulevard. In addition, work on pedestrian signal installation is ongoing from 38th Avenue to 54th Avenue N. The project is scheduled to wrap up at the end of the month.

Road and drainage work on Bryan Dairy Road from Starkey Road to 72nd Street will involve nightly lane closures. The completion date is Nov. 25.

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at DocDelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.

New 54th Ave. S traffic signal still flusters motorists 06/18/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 18, 2011 4:31am]
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