ST. PETERSBURG — One Memorial Day weekend, residents along Snell Isle's Monterey Boulevard witnessed two cars racing side by side past their homes.
The street, where 2,000 cars travel each day, has become a drag strip of sorts for some, with speeds far exceeding the 25 mph limit.
The problem became so frightening for residents they turned to their homeowners association and the city for help. Relief could come in the form of a series of strategically placed, skillfully camouflaged traffic calming devices that residents themselves will have to maintain.
"We are trying to be proactive to try to prevent someone, some child, from being killed," said Warren Eisenhower, president of the Snell Isle Property Owners Association.
"What we're hoping to achieve is, one, make it a residential street as it is designed to be and reduce the speed of the traffic and, at the same time, use beautification techniques to accomplish that."
What are being proposed are staggered roadside extensions, or curb bump-outs on both sides of the Monterey Boulevard-Almedo Way thoroughfare and modifications to a traffic circle already in place. Mike Frederick, the city's manager of transportation planning, put the estimated cost at about $100,000.
This is a change from an earlier proposal calling for landscaped medians. There was a reason for the shift, said Joe Kubicki, director of transportation and parking management.
"We have been putting medians into the center of the road, but they are causing a burden to the city to maintain them," he said. "So, one of the things is that we can move those medians to the side of the road."
The bump-outs — each landscaped with an oak and Indian hawthorns — would adjoin homeowners' properties and be maintained by residents, Kubicki said, adding that this style of traffic calming can be seen at the intersection of Shore Acres Boulevard and Overlook Drive NE.
The city's engineering department will be working on a preliminary design for the streets, he said.
Meanwhile, for residents on Monterey Boulevard and Almedo Way, it has been more than a yearlong process to get to this point. Doug Ellingsworth is traffic and safety committee chair for the weary residents.
"From my understanding, neighbors have been expressing concerns about the speeds on Almedo Way for years," he said.
"The entire stretch on Almedo and Monterey is a relatively wide-open road and you can reach high speeds quickly,'' he said. "It's also a very busy street for biking, walking and running. You can have a truck or car coming by you at literally 50 mph."
Frederick said traffic travels so fast along the Monterey-Almedo Way route — the northwest connector for Snell Isle — that residents are afraid to park on the street.
The solutions being considered, he said, are meant "to let people know this is not an airport runway."
Frederick said the city works with neighborhoods to address traffic problems — 90 such plans are in place — starting with speed watch signs and police enforcement. Traffic calming is usually the next step, he said.
Although the Monterey-Almedo Way traffic is of most concern to those who live in the neighborhood, all Snell Isle homeowners will be asked to vote on the solution. A 51 percent approval by those who vote would be required for the project to go forward.
With the design still in flux, no date has been set for the mail-in vote.
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.