The neon Tropicana Field sign that greets northbound motorists on Interstate 275 and points beyond has been on the fritz for some time. Some readers find the malfunction distracting and frustrating. When it works, exit instructions posted for baseball fans headed to the stadium are helpful. The sign is a three-panel display with two static outside panels that illuminate normally, but the main center display, which flashes messages when it's working correctly, lately just shows a smattering of orange lights here and there.
Reader Bill Williams wrote: "To the best of my knowledge the middle portion of the sign has not worked in some time; it worked for a very little while when first installed, then it started malfunctioning. I think the Rays and the city of St. Petersburg are missing great promotional opportunities. Can you find some information about this?"
We did some checking around, and it turns out that the malfunctioning sign, which is owned by the Rays, has been an ongoing headache for the team's management. Rick Nafe, the team's vice president of operations, said in an e-mail to city officials last week that the marquee has been "an operational nightmare from the start." The Rays are getting quotes and considering repair and replacement options.
Nafe said workers recently moved the sign's reset switch to ground level so there's no need for a crane or bucket truck every time the "tri-vision" sign needs a tweak. But there are still problems.
"The LED is not as simple. While we are considering repair pricing for the LED, nothing will guarantee that it won't continue to go out on a frequent basis. With that understanding, we are also pricing out a fixed static display of our logo or something like that. Quotes are due in next week, and a decision will be made shortly thereafter," Nafe said.
46th Ave. N work is set
The Pinellas County Public Works Department will start work this month on a major road improvement that will replace a nearly 2-mile stretch of 46th Avenue N from 62nd to 80th streets N. The improvement will include installation of bike lanes, new sidewalks, curbs and gutters. The project will also affect cross traffic at the intersections of 46th Avenue N and 66th Street N and 71st Street N (Belcher Road) and 45th Avenue N. The cost is $9.5 million and it's scheduled to be completed in spring 2011.
38th Ave. N progresses
The improvement of 38th Avenue N is progressing well, according to a spokeswoman with Pinellas County Public Works. Meg Korakis told us that work to install pipes and barrier walls is going well, and the contractor is expected to finish the job in late August or early September, weather permitting.
Free baseball shuttle
St. Petersburg's free baseball shuttle is available for Rays games Tuesday through July 12. The shuttles will begin their loops 90 minutes before the start of each game and will be available for an hour after each game. Fans can park in garages downtown and catch a free ride from stops on Second Street between Central and First Avenue S (under the pedestrian bridge connecting the Bank of America Tower and South Core garage) and 16th Street S and Third Avenue S. A printable route map is available online at LooperTrolley.com.
Remember your lights
Robert Safransky sent us a note last week asking that we remind readers to use their headlights when it rains, as well as in the morning and at twilight. Now that the rainy season has returned, we're noticing a lot of folks on the road using their parking lights or their flashers, both of which are improper, or no lights at all when it's raining. Make sure your lights are on if you're driving in the rain. It's not just a smart thing to do — it's the law in Florida.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
Please e-mail Dr. Delay at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.