Those nostalgic about St. Petersburg's history may be sad to see that the railroad tracks in the old crossing on First Avenue N near the Police Department have been removed. But others may be feeling less nostalgic and more perplexed about the pace of rail removal downtown.
Reader Jack Tunstill wrote the Doc to comment on the fact that while the rails have been removed on First Avenue N and new pavement has been put down, rails remain on First Avenue S near Tropicana Field. Not only are the rails still in place, but the railroad crossing sign remains, too.
Tunstill pointed out: "This sign requires a bus to stop. Since the railroad tracks have been removed all around the Trop and north of First Avenue S, why is the sign still there?"
We asked Thomas Gibson, the city's engineering director. He told us the status of the rail line south of Fifth Avenue N is now "out of service," but will remain CSX property for future rail service.
That means city workers cannot just go out and remove superfluous signs or railroad tracks. All rail and signal removal work must be okayed by CSX. The complete removal of the rails and signals is scheduled to take place sometime in 2011 or 2012, depending on CSX's work schedules.
"In the interim, city forces have improved the pavement conditions on 16th Street, First Avenue N, and Central Avenue, and will be removing the crossing signs in an effort to improve traffic flow," Gibson said.
TIA INTERCHANGE Questions
Following signs should keep you in proper lane
Questions about the new and improved road configurations around Tampa International Airport have been coming in with increasing frequency. This is probably partly because summer vacation season is in full swing, and chances are good that motorists who travel to the airport infrequently are just now discovering the new design and accompanying signs. Reader Sandy Columbus wrote:
''Why is it when I am heading south on the Veterans Expressway and I near Tampa wanting to go to St. Petersburg, the three left lane signs say 'St. Petersburg' but when I take those I don't get on the Howard Frankland but instead have to go around the airport?"
Kris Carson of the state Department of Transportation says the left lanes Columbus mentions are essentially the through lanes meant to get traffic safely past the airport interchange.
"You need to continue to follow the signs, which will ultimately guide you back to the right to get to the interstate," Carson said.
Reader Marie Silverman of Clearwater wrote:
"When I travel from Clearwater to Tampa International Airport, the sign directing me to the overpass toward the airport has an arrow that is very confusing."
Kevin Dunn, the state DOT's district manager of signs and pavement markers, said the standard overhead signs on the Courtney Campbell Parkway are followed by additional overhead signs on State Road 60 as drivers approach the exit to TIA. The signs define which lane a motorist should be in to exit to the airport. He said if motorists pay attention to these overhead signs, they will easily get into the proper lane.
The arrow sign that Silverman is referring to is a ground-mounted sign at the TIA exit, which Dunn acknowledged is not ideal.
"Because of FAA (regulations) we could only provide a ground-mounted sign. Having the exit to Spruce Street located so close to the exit to TIA, the arrow only points slightly to the right so that traffic on approach to the Spruce Street exit might not confuse this sign as being related to the Spruce Street exit (i.e. if pointed more typically at a 45 degree angle traffic might exit onto the Spruce Street ramp instead)," Dunn wrote in an e-mail.
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