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City voices opposition to tube

If Mayor Jerry Beverland has his way, the monolithic traffic sign structure known as the monotube will never come to Oldsmar.

"They are horrible looking," Beverland said. "They are ridiculous. It looks like a big water line going across the road."

At a recent City Council meeting, Beverland pointed to a picture of the metal tube in Pinellas Park. The city needed to address the issue now "if you don't want a great big tube over Tampa Road," he said.

The state has made significant improvements in Tampa Road and Curlew Road, with both state roads being widened in the past few years. The tube went up in Pinellas Park as part of a $2-million state project to improve the intersection.

"We have already gone through Oldsmar and done a lot of work out there, so I don't even know if there is any more work to be done out there," said Marian Pscion, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Besides, if a city has a problem with the monotube, all officials have to do is let their feelings be known, Pscion said.

"We are trying to be more sensitive, and we will work with the city," she said. "If they have a concern, they just need to come to us and talk to us."

The monotube is big for a reason, the DOT says. It has to withstand hurricane-force wind gusts, a requirement for traffic signals after so many were lost when Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992.

Since the brown monotube was erected, thousands of motorists and Pinellas Park residents have complained of the DOT's poor taste, saying the eyesore resembled an above-ground sewer pipe.

Oldsmar City Attorney Tom Trask is investigating what Oldsmar can do to prevent a monotube and plans to call other city attorneys to see what they are doing about it, he said.

But it may not be good news.

"It's a state road, and we have no control over the signalization or the directional signs over a state road," Trask said.

That's not so, Pscion said.

"Just give us a call," Pscion said. "A monotube is not the only option. There are other options. It's not just monotube or nothing."