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St. Petersburg traffic buildouts are part of a long-term plan

Why did the city of St. Petersburg put in those hideous islands on Central Avenue at the corners of Fifth and Sixth streets? I don't get it. Are they there to slow traffic, protect pedestrians or make the street "pretty"? What they do is slow traffic to a crawl and upset the drivers. The way they have them, you cannot go around someone who is making a left turn, thereby having drivers wait sometimes through two light cycles.

Bob Marcus

The city is installing traffic signal mast arm poles at several intersections, including Central Avenue at Fifth and Sixth streets. The islands, which are called "intersection neckouts," are part of the city's Plaza Parkway plan, adopted by the City Council back in 1992. Neckouts are basically buildouts of street corners that result in larger pedestrian areas that can include benches, trash receptacles, lighted concrete posts, bike racks and landscaping. The goal of the project, according to the design document, is to rejuvenate the downtown area by creating a pedestrian-friendly environment referred to as "streetscape improvements."

The boundaries of the Plaza Parkway design area are First Avenue N and First Avenue S from 16th Street to Bay Shore Drive with links to the Pier, Tropicana Field and the Vinoy. The plan reads like a time capsule of sorts, with references to the Bayfront Center (demolished in 2004), the defunct Bay Plaza retail district, the Florida Suncoast Dome (now Tropicana Field) and the suggestion of installing telephone booth kiosks in the neck-out areas. To review the 75-page Plaza Parkway design plan in its entirety, download the pdf at tinyurl.com/d85n6qc.

Please tell us what is going on alongside westbound Bay Pines Boulevard at Long Bayou? Is the road getting widened?

No, the road is not being readied for a widening project. The work that's going on is a Progress Energy job to install a new line that will run under Long Bayou.

After school has started, and the flashing yellow light on the 15 MPH sign has been turned off, there are sometimes cones remaining on the lane dividing line. I believe those cones are there to slow traffic as it approaches the intersection and that once you are through the intersection, since the yellow light is no longer flashing, you are free to resume regular speed. My reason for living disagrees. She believes that once you are through the intersection you must still obey the school zone speed until you pass the "end of school zone" sign. Please clear this up for us.

Dave Highlands

It all depends on what time you arrive at the school zone. State law says motorists must maintain school zone speeds (not less than 15 mph or more than 20 mph) "30 minutes before, during, and 30 minutes after the periods of time when students are arriving at a regularly scheduled breakfast program or a regularly scheduled school session and leaving a regularly scheduled school session." Signs that designate the school zone times may or may not be present; school zones may have flashing lights that are activated manually or by a time clock, which can be used as an alternative to posting the times during which the restrictive school speed limit is enforced.

In terms of portable devices such as orange traffic cones, crossing guards can place those in the road only during those periods when students are arriving at and leaving regularly scheduled school sessions. If you see traffic cones in the road, chances are you're arriving at the school zone area very close to the beginning or end of the school zone speed limit restriction time period.

Barricade watch

Workers are cleaning out the manholes along Gulf Boulevard in Redington Shores today and Monday. Be prepared for intermittent closures of a single southbound lane and workers in the road.

Email Dr. Delay at docdelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions or follow Dr. Delay on Twitter @AskDrDelay.

St. Petersburg traffic buildouts are part of a long-term plan 12/15/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 15, 2012 3:31am]
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