Northbound commuters who exit Interstate 275 S onto 31st Street should proceed with caution. An attentive reader alerted us recently to a potentially serious traffic hazard on 31st Street and 10th Avenue S.
Reader Marshall Seiden wrote: "I must write now since I witnessed a near serious accident last week.''
Cars exiting I-275 northbound at the 31st Street S exit, then taking a left turn to go north on 31st are directed by yellow lines to cross the near lane of oncoming traffic and enter 31st Street on the far right lane, he said, causing the exiting traffic to conflict with 31st traffic.
The Doc took a drive to the exit and after observing traffic, alerted Mike Frederick, the city's director of transportation. He responded by sending the city's engineering department out to the scene. The engineers confirmed that the radius line striping installed by a city contractor was in error. "The contractor will be correcting this later next week,'' Frederick said in an e-mail. In the meantime, be careful, folks.
Bounce is built-in
Have you noticed the occasionally lumpy, bumpy ride when crossing the Bayside Bridge? Some readers have. Barry Marshall wrote:
"Dear Dr. Delay, although this is not really a delay problem maybe you can answer this very annoying question for me. Why is it that as you drive north on the first half of the Bayside bridge there is this irritating "clunking" of the tires over the spacers in the pavement? It causes the whole vehicle to bounce rhythmically. Can't this be fixed? I ride in a full-sized handicapped van, which maybe intensifies the effect.''
We checked in with Pinellas County Public Works and learned from Tony Horrnik, a county engineer, that the rhythmic bouncing effect is caused by a series of arches in the bridge's design. Horrnik said that engineers refer to the arches as "camber" in the slab spans.
"Unfortunately, this [bouncing] is not uncommon in some bridges using concrete slab spans. Cambering is the design/construction methodology used so that concrete slabs ideally deflect down to a level position under anticipated heavy loads. A different design could result in a sagging downward profile – like a piece of wood bows when excessive weight is put on top of it."
The bottom line: The bouncing is here to stay. Maybe choosing music to accompany the bounces will help make it less annoying. The Doc has found that just about any track on the Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 CD matches the Bayside Bridge tempo.
Bridge causing backups
It's not your imagination: The long lines of backed-up traffic along the Pinellas Bayway are growing longer with each weekend. Part of the problem may be the frequency of the opening of the drawbridge linking Tierra Verde to the mainland. There is good news for some nonmariners (folks who use the bridge frequently and spend a lot of time idling as boats sail through the channel).
At the moment, the bridge currently opens on signal, except that from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. it opens on the hour, and 20 and 40 minutes after the hour. The Department of Homeland Security issued a final ruling last week on the issue, which will require the Pinellas Bayway to open on signal, except that from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. the bridge will open on the hour and half-hour.
Public vessels, tugs with tows and vessels in distress will be allowed passage at any time. The new schedule will go into effect April 30. Records including public comment gathered in the process of making this decision are available online at www.regulations.gov, refer to Docket No. USCG-2007-0096.
Please e-mail Dr. Delay at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.