Marilyn Martin wrote to express concerns about how harrowing Fourth Street around 112th Avenue N in St. Petersburg is, especially during peak hours:
"At the Winn-Dixie entrance/exit cars are trying to go six different directions — turning left to go north, right to go south, across the street at the apartments, it's the same thing, and with some cars also trying to go straight ahead to cross the road. Then there is the traffic coming off of I-275 on Fourth Street going south (pretty fast), and traffic heading north. Are they going to wait until someone gets killed before traffic lights will be put up? I read a couple of years ago this would happen."
The Doc took a spin through the area during afternoon rush hour, and it was just as Martin described — chaotic. We touched base with the state Department of Transportation and asked about traffic signal plans. There is acknowledgment that a signal is needed, but the installation requires collaboration between the DOT and the city of St. Petersburg.
According to the DOT's Marian Scorza, the agency is all for a signal on Fourth Street, but the installation will come after the city adds a turn lane for 112th.
"The department approved a signal for this location contingent upon St. Petersburg developing construction plans for a turn lane on 112th. When those are presented to us as final plans, the Department of Transportation is committed to do the signal design. Following that, St. Petersburg will do the construction at the intersection, including the signal installation," Scorza said.
We shared Scorza's comment with Michael Frederick, the city's manager of neighborhood transportation, who said: "We are still waiting for DOT to complete the signal design. Once we have that we can program the intersection modifications. That could be for 2010 or 11."
It looks like both parties are waiting for the other. When we pointed this out, Frederick checked with the engineering department and told us the city's plans were recently sent to the DOT. Progress!
Five steps will get you to Veterans Expressway
The Doc has received numerous notes from readers who regularly commute from Pinellas to Tampa and use the new interchange around Tampa International Airport. The consensus is that the new road configuration has made traveling from the Howard Frankland Bridge to the Veterans Expressway a headache.
Reader Alan Petrillo calls it "Spaghetti Junction" and told the Doc his daily commute from St. Petersburg to Tampa is basically a dangerous mess:
"The merge from the exit off of the Howard Frankland to the northbound lanes toward Eisenhower requires me to either successfully merge into northbound traffic in exactly four seconds, or take a tour of the airport terminal. …"
Another reader wrote:
"We were unpleasantly surprised to experience the new alignment of off-ramps from northbound I-275 to the Veterans Expressway. Apparently the Tampa International Airport exit is now designed only for traffic going to TIA or points east, such as Boy Scout Boulevard, etc. There was no way we were able to merge all the way across to the lanes accessing Eisenhower, the causeway or the Veterans Expressway. We were forced instead to enter TIA property and do a U-turn at the halfway point. What's the now-recommended route to the Veterans Expressway?"
John McShaffrey of the DOT told us there is in fact a way to access the Veterans Expressway when exiting northbound I-275 toward TIA, great news for those of us who do not want to tour the airport grounds daily.
Here is the five-step instruction from McShaffrey:
1. From northbound I-275, take Exit 39B. Crossing I-275 on the bridge going toward the airport, you need to merge one lane to the left as the ramp opens up into a three-lane road.
2. You will then be in a lane where you will pass the exit to Spruce Street and continue past the exit to the airport.
3. There is an overhead sign in this area that reads "Veterans" to reinforce that you are heading toward that connecting highway.
4. From there, continue on these lanes (passing the exit to State Road 60 West/Clearwater).
5. Just north of the exit to State Road 60, you will see additional signs guiding you to the Veterans. The left two lanes enter the Veterans Expressway.
Repairs, resurfacing will lead to closures
Scheduled repairs and resurfacing of parts of the Pinellas Trail will require trail closures from Park Boulevard to 102nd Avenue until Feb. 3, from 102nd Avenue to a point 1,000 feet south of Walsingham Road from Feb. 4 until Feb. 15, and from West Bay Drive to Ponce De Leon Boulevard from Feb. 16 to Feb. 25. For more on the trail, go to pinellas county.org/trailgd.
E-mail Dr. Delay at email@example.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.