(ran East, South, Beach, Seminole editions)
A short but key stretch of a downtown avenue has opened to two-way traffic after years of being one-way.
Second Avenue S, next to the new Publix in the University Village shopping center, was converted a few days ago to accommodate traffic in both directions between Second and Fourth streets.
The measure was taken to improve traffic flow around the shopping center, scheduled to open this month, city engineer Mike Connors said.
Second Avenue S from Fourth Street to Tropicana Field will remain one-way westbound, Connors said.
Second Street S will continue to be one-way southbound, and Third Street S will remain one-way northbound.
University Village will include nine retailers in addition to Publix. An Eckerd store will open about the same time at 301 Third St. S. The University Village developer is the Sembler Co., which also developed BayWalk and is a partner in a deal to build a Kash n' Karry at 18th Avenue S and 22nd Street.
Friday morning, motorists were adapting to the new two-way pattern with no apparent confusion.
The switch also means a change in parking patterns. The south side of Second Avenue will have angled parking; the avenue's north side, parallel parking.
The formats are different to create more on-street spaces on the Publix side of the avenue, said Michael Frederick, neighborhood transportation manager.
In addition, a few parallel spaces have been created on Second Avenue's north side just west of Fourth Street. That was done to ease traffic transition westbound across Fourth Street, where Second Avenue remains one-way, Frederick said.
The Second Avenue project has been part of a downtown traffic analysis that will result in some other one-way thoroughfares' being returned to two-way flow.
Also scheduled to revert are Third Avenue N between Fourth and Fifth streets, and Second Avenue N between Third and Fifth streets, Connors said.
The analysis showed that the sections are good candidates to convert to two-way flow, Connors said. "There is no reduction in level of service, and they'll provide better opportunity for businesses and restaurants," he said.
The change won't happen for another year or so, Connors said.
Sometimes at the request of business owners, city traffic managers have been examining downtown traffic patterns for several years. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street between Ninth and Fourth avenues N is edging toward a return to two-way. Entrepreneurs along the section have applauded the plan.
The idea seems to be well received near University Park, too.
Keith Norstein, assistant manager at the UPS Store, formerly Mail Boxes Etc., at 200 Second Ave. S, said he expects the two-way format to make the store more visible to motorists.
Meanwhile, business has improved in the shop as construction nears completion, Norstein said.