The new Publix on 66th Street just north of 13th Avenue N has been a welcome addition for many, but for some residents of the surrounding neighborhood, the accompanying traffic has been a headache.
An access consisting of a painted median with five plastic posts and angled driveway was added on 13th Avenue N to provide access in and out of the parking lot of the Shoppes at the Royale, which houses several businesses in addition to Publix. The design of the median was meant to allow traffic coming from 66th Street to turn right into the driveway and traffic exiting from the parking lot to make a left turn-only onto 13th Avenue to head toward 66th.
But most of the posts have been snapped off. The space is very tight and motorists ignore the no-right turn sign and pavement paintings and make illegal westbound right turns, while opposing traffic on 13th Avenue N coming from the east routinely runs a three-way stop sign at 67th Street. It's a mess and neighbors are wondering if there will be a more permanent traffic management installation there at some point.
We checked in with Mike Frederick, St. Petersburg's manager of neighborhood transportation, who told us that the access to the development has been an issue since long before construction of the shopping and business complex even started, with members of the Crossroads Neighborhood Association expressing concerns about the impact on the residential area.
One issue was worry that motorists from outside the residential area would use the commercial property access to cut through the neighborhood, which appears to be happening. To try to prevent this, the right-turn in/left-turn out driveway was agreed upon. But it doesn't seem to be working all that well.
"Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to construct such a restriction to prevent illegal turns at this location. Therefore, the result is that motorists turn whichever way they want, despite the posted turn restrictions," Frederick said.
Frederick said workers could replace the posts, but it would be a temporary fix because motorists will continue to make illegal turns. He also said that there is no possibility to build a permanent center median along 13th Avenue N to restrict access because it would also restrict access to residential driveways.
"We conducted speed and volume studies throughout the neighborhood this fall, after the plaza opened. These were compared to counts taken prior to development of the plaza and no appreciable difference was determined. We will continue to work with the development and the neighborhood on this issue and implement features as deemed appropriate," Frederick wrote in an e-mail last week.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
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