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Who cleans up debris after traffic accident?

All too often I see broken glass and car parts on the road following accidents. Whose responsibility is it to clean up the mess on city roads, county roads, state roads and the interstate? And whom do you call when the road is reopened and the mess is still there?

Eric Jacobsen

The short answer is that it all depends on where the accident occurred. Without getting too deep into the legalese of Chapter 316.061 of the 2013 Florida Statutes, which addresses crashes that involve damage to vehicle or property, here's who may and should remove resulting debris: on state roads and the interstate system, employees of the state Department of Transportation or agents authorized by the DOT; law enforcement with proper jurisdiction; or an expressway authority created to provide management, control, and maintenance of the highway system.

Some municipalities contract with towing companies to remove debris.

Whom should you contact? It may take a little investigative work to connect with the right party. Here's why: We have more than two dozen municipalities in Pinellas County, and no two operate exactly the same. If it's within the limits of a city or town, it's best to start with the public works or transportation departments, which can be found by on the municipality's official website.

It seems like getting more people on the bus is less costly than adding so many new lanes. A bus shelter or even a bench will make it easier for people. A pull-off bay will let traffic move as the bus stops for passengers. A bike rack would help the people when the two bike racks on the bus are filled. With all of these multimillion dollar road expansion projects ongoing, do any include improved transit?

Tom Tito

We shared this note with Bob Lasher, PSTA's spokesman, who agreed that getting more people on mass transit is cheaper than building new roads. But, Lasher pointed out, the county is challenged by a combination of things, among them: we've become so built-out that here is little to no room left to add new roads. And funding is always an issue.

"We're all subsidized by taxes, and for most of us, that limits our ability to add bus stops, amenities or new service. When it comes to bus stops, many factors, aside from cost, determine what amenities we can include such as right-of-way, land ownership, permitting, city ordinances, passenger safety and surrounding land use." Lasher said.

PSTA has been working with cities and the health department to get additional funding for bike racks at stops, since record ridership has led to bike racks being full on buses.

Lasher says that bus pullouts are a debated issue because while they may get buses out of the way of traffic, they can create delays. This is because maneuvering in and out of traffic isn't easy for bus drivers.

Pinellas voters will have a chance to weigh in on funding next November via a referendum on that ballot that proposes a 1 percent sales tax increase (that would not include grocery or medicine) to fund the transit improvement plan called Greenlight Pinellas (greenlightpinellas.com).

Barricade watch

Here's an update on the closure of westbound 110th Avenue at 49th Street in Pinellas Park: The goal of the project is to relieve congestion and backups at 110th and eastbound 49th Street at the connection to U.S. 19. The work will widen the west side of 110th Avenue and add an eastbound left-turn lane to take traffic northbound onto 49th Street and should last several weeks. The current time frame is 120 days, according to Scott Pinheiro, Pinellas Park's director of engineering service, but he expects things to wrap up sooner, with the new turn lane opened in about eight weeks. In the meantime, the southbound curb lane of 49th Street will be closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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

Who cleans up debris after traffic accident? 11/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 3:08pm]
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