For eight years, I have taken my coffee most mornings at Kahwa on the corner of Fifth Avenue N at Second Street (now called University Way). I have observed many near-accidents. I have spoken with Mike Frederick at City Hall on several occasions over the years, and he has implemented some improvements (there are now flashing crosswalks on the east and west sides of Second Street).
The trouble is that there are more dwellings being built every day, more people, more events, and more traffic than ever before in the history of our fair town. Even just the normal everyday traffic of people using the University Way north corridor to turn west onto Fifth Avenue and traveling from the east heading toward Fourth Street and the interstate ramp make it nearly impossible to navigate. This is multiplied 10 times when we have an event downtown, which is nearly every weekend. If there ever was an intersection that needed a full-fledged traffic light in our county, this is it.
We shared your inquiry with Mike Frederick, St. Petersburg's transportation manager, who told us that his department has been monitoring this intersection for a very long time — well before Second Street was converted from a one-way roadway to two-way. Frederick says that several options such as the installation of an all-way stop as well as a full traffic control signal have been considered, but it's not up to city staffers to simply decide to install (or not install) traffic management measures — specific guidelines must be followed that are set by the state of Florida, and bottom-line, state requirements have not been met for traffic signal installation at this intersection.
Frederick says the city's transportation department has taken several steps to improve safety to include posting the 30 mph speed limit on Fifth Avenue N, implementation of Neighborhood Speed Watch (radar speed display sign) on Fifth Avenue N, increased sight lines for motorists on Second Street by removal of parking east of the intersection, installation of two pedestrian crosswalks on each leg of Fifth Avenue N, installation of rapid flashing beacons for both crosswalks, posting "State Law" signage warning motorists to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, "Cross Street Traffic Does Not Stop" warning signs and oversized stop signs for northbound and southbound traffic, and enhanced pavement markings at the intersection. These measures have had positive impact.
"All of the engineering, education, and enforcement has resulted in a reduction of crashes since the two-way conversion of Second Street, to the point that additional measures are no longer required at this time," Frederick said.
A review of crashes at this intersection over the course of the past three years bear this out — three accidents occurred in 2015; none in 2016, and one this year (so far). These statistics don't signal a severe or recurring traffic safety issue, Frederick said, but the city will continue to monitor the intersection closely.
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