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New firms will tackle 2 abandoned projects

We have some halfway good news for those of you in the Tyrone area and around 62nd Avenue NE who have been trying to live with messes left by a contractor who walked out on two projects for the city.

Two new contractors have been found to complete the work. The downside is that the streets will be torn up again, but at least there is an end in sight.

The Tyrone area project is a sanitary sewer replacement. When the original contractor left during the summer, there were two open excavations, at 66th Street N and 26th Avenue, and at 30th Avenue N east of 66th Street.

The pits were filled, but there was a lot of ugliness left.

The project at 62nd Avenue NE is a reclaimed water line. Or it will be when it's done. The line will run along 62nd Avenue from several hundred feet west of Bayou Grande Boulevard to First Street and then north to 77th Avenue N.

The same contractor, Kenko Inc., was doing both projects but left citing financial problems that wouldn't allow its people to complete either project. The projects were less than 50 percent finished when Kenko walked away.

The city terminated the contracts and notified the bonding company that it was responsible for completing the projects. The bonding company found the new contractors.

No word yet on when the projects might be done, but they're moving in the right direction.

We were prompted to look at this situation again by notes from Everett Stevens and Linda Miller, and we thank them for asking.

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Now, we have some bad news for you in the Tyrone area. St. Petersburg's crumbling wastewater system is about to claim some additional victims.

Beginning on Nov. 10, give or take a day, work will begin to improve an existing 36-inch pipe at 66th Street N and Fifth Avenue.

Southbound traffic on 66th Street will be reduced to one lane through the Fifth Avenue intersection. And worse, the project will take about two months to complete.

This means the traffic impediment will exist through the busy Tyrone shopping weeks surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas and will affect thousands of commuters every day. But the work needs to be done, so grit your teeth and find a way around the construction.

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Every so often, when we get a notice, we let you know that AARP is conducting a new round of classes reviewing driving rules and regulations for older citizens. Once you complete the classes successfully, you become eligible for lower rates on your automobile insurance.

Attending the AARP sessions requires getting out of the house and going to class, which isn't convenient for everyone. A reader informed us last week that now there is a course you can take while sitting in front of your computer, which also will qualify you for discounts on your auto insurance.

It is offered by the Florida Safety Council and approved by the state Department of Highway Safety. Huzzah!

It costs $14.95 and requires six hours to complete. But before you groan, know that you don't have to spend six straight hours sitting on your fanny, though you may if you wish to. Those of you who are prone to numb butt, as we are, can log off and log back on as many times as you wish. The system provides an easy method to pick up right where you left off.

In order to give you some guidance, we took the test, though Jessie proved very little help. And we can tell you it takes the full six hours. Not because it is hard, but because the reading material is divided into 14 sections, called modules, and each is assigned a time requirement. You can't go on to the next module until you have spent the full allotment of time with the previous one.

This is, we suspect, a disincentive to rush through the material.

There also are a few little practice tests along the way, so you get the idea of what you'll face when you take the real test at the end, which is all multiple choice and true-or-false.

There is a full allotment of gee-whiz information, such as the reminder that the more you drink the more impaired you become. Well, really? Duh!

But there was a lot of stuff that we hadn't known before. Did you know that in Florida it is legal for two motorcyclists to ride abreast in the same lane? Not three, but two. This is not true in all states, but it is true here.

We also were astonished to learn that 13 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States are caused by drowsy drivers, and that 87 percent of all accidents caused by drowsy drivers are fatalities. That's scary.

At the end of the reading period, you get a quiz consisting of 40 questions. You must score 80 percent to pass. That gives you eight wrong answers out of 40, which is a lot of leeway. Once you are done, if you pass (we did), you are notified that your certificate will be sent to you.

If you elect regular mail, there is no additional charge. If you choose expedited handling, there is a cost to you.

You must be 55 or older to take the test (we got special dispensation because Jessie is more than 55 in dog years). And passing it gives you a state-mandated insurance rate reduction for three years.

That alone will more than recoup the $14.95 it costs to take the course. And we think you'll get something good out of it. You might find out, as we did, that we didn't know everything about driving, after all.

_ Dr. Delay can be reached by e-mail at, by fax at (727) 893-8675 or by snail mail at 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.