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If you label it "ThunderDome,' they will come

Dome da dome dome . . .

The Doc's misleading signs dragnet cast over Interstate 275 this week, snaring these delights.

"I just have a little annoying thing that's bugging me," phoned Debra Tuthill. "When you're driving south on 275 right after you pass Fifth Avenue N, the sign still says Florida Suncoast Dome. I wonder if they are going to ever change that or wait 'til the baseball team comes."

Hey, we got time, more than 600 days remain until the first pitch. Besides, now that hockey's gone for good and the Storm is pulling out and all. But seriously, why is it still there?

The place is, after all, the ThunderDome and has been for a good portion of the '90s.

To the state Department of Transportation's credit, most of the signs around the Dome, leading either to north and south feeders I-375 and I-175, say "The Dome," just this one archaic relic remains from the Plastocene era, reading "Fl Suncoast Dome Exit 9."

Just saying "The Dome" actually is an abbreviation for "Florida Suncoast Dome," not ThunderDome, said the DOT's Leo Folsom. They just happened to carry over well when ThunderDome was chosen as its name. You also get the Dome's tilting clamshell logo steering you in the right direction in some places.

As for the sole remaining "Fl Suncoast Dome" sign, Folsom says it stays until we're sure what name the Dome's to bear once the Tampa Bay Devil Rays take the field.

"If someone comes in as a sponsor of the Dome, we'd have to change it again," says Folsom. "We're just saving taxpayers' money."

(Please, please, please, Dr. Delay pleads, no HoulihanDome!)

Fair enough, though traffic coming from the north is encouraged to get off on I-375 before you get to this point. But let's say you do skip down this far, what do you find?

The Exit 9 sign boldly announces Al Lang Stadium and Bayfront Center. Nothing for the Dome. Nada. And the Eighth and Ninth Street exit doesn't say it's for the Dome either (you have to get off there and go to the overpass rise before you see a sign to Dome parking).

Go figure. But don't go by the signs.

Ms. Tuthill, you're on to something.

On the lighter, and one heck of a lot more confusing, side, comes this from James Boyd.

"I'm calling about the sign off the 22nd Avenue exit going north on I-275 pointing the wrong direction to Stetson University. It's pointing east, when it definitely isn't, it's west," he says.

You're right, real confusing.

But here's why.

It's really the 26th Avenue S exit off northbound I-275 (there being no northbound 22nd Avenue S exit, though there is an entrance, and southbound exit). The sign to Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport (mind you, it's west from here) points east (advising it's 3 miles off).

Going east takes you up a few feet to 31st Street, where you're greeted by a sign sending you north to Gulfport and Stetson; then at 22nd Avenue S, you find another sign that gets you heading into the right direction.

Got that? East, north, west.

The reasoning, says the DOT's Folsom, is to keep cars and trucks fresh off the Interstate from barreling through residential neighborhoods. True, homes line 31st Street, but it's been created as one of St. Petersburg's major north-south drags.

And from the Pinellas County Highway Department this week:

Repairs continue on the Madonna Bridge on Tierra Verde (not to be confused with the work on the Bayway bridge to the island);

and pond cleaning at 66th Street and 64th Avenue N.

Write me at Ask Dr. Delay, Neighborhood Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731-1121. Or call. Using a Touch-Tone phone, phone TimesLine at 898-0019; punch in category code 8900. Or e-mail me at docdelaysptimes.com.

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