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Florida makes use of free ride offer

Tipsy New Year's revelers around the state who found themselves without designated drivers took advantage of a free ride home program co-sponsored by AAA Motor Club South and Budweiser.

In its sixth year, the free "Tow to Go" program was offered throughout Florida and in metropolitan areas of Georgia and Tennessee during the 2004 holiday season, which ran from Thanksgiving through Jan. 1. The majority of the drivers who imbibed a little too much and took advantage of the program were Floridians.

An AAA official said 800 drivers called for a free ride home during the program period, and 650 of those rides were provided to Floridians.

AAA and Budweiser share the cost of providing the towing service and the advertising campaign that provides posters for bars to display.

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Have you ever noticed banners fluttering from the Pinellas Trail pedestrian overpasses that arch over major intersections?

Harold Lilly of St. Petersburg is wondering about those banners. He phoned last week to tell me that they distract him when he's driving, and he began to wonder who puts them up, who is allowed to use the walkovers for advertising and whether revenue is generated from the banners.

I made some calls to inquire and ended up speaking to Monty Alfonso, who is the Parks and Recreation program coordinator for Pinellas County.

He said that banners can be displayed on the Pinellas Trail walkovers by governmental agencies only and that the banners generate no revenue.

Applications must be submitted in writing to the Parks and Recreation Department, and banners may hang for no more than 30 days.

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Northbound commuters take note: Construction of a new pedestrian overpass will close all six lanes of McMullen Booth Road between State Road 590 and Drew Street in both directions from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 16 and 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 17.

McMullen Booth Road will re-open once the work is complete, and since there are no guarantees about the exact amount of time the project will take to complete, motorists should plan on using U.S. 19 as an alternate route.

Clearwater officials say that only local traffic will be allowed between McMullen Booth Road and State Road 590 while work is under way.

The pedestrian overpass is part of the Clearwater East-West trail system that will connect the Safety Harbor Trail to Clearwater Beach and the Pinellas Trail system. The project will take approximately two years to complete.

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Robert Rau of Seminole wrote to say that he thinks Seminole Boulevard ought to be renamed "Seminole Speedway."

Rau says there is an ongoing speeding problem on stretches of Seminole Boulevard, which runs north/south, particularly between the traffic signals between 86th Avenue and Johnson Boulevard.

Rau is especially concerned about the high rates of speed because mobile home parks residents in the area are within walking distance of stores and other businesses on Seminole Boulevard and pedestrian traffic crossing the road is often heavy. Rau claims that he has seen checkered flags waving in the area, and although we appreciate his humor, his concerns are valid. Let's heed the speed limits folks, and ease off the gas pedals.

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Residents of the Woodlawn Oaks neighborhood are fed up with 18-wheelers that keep rolling through the neighborhood, which is east of the interstate between 16th Street N and 22nd Avenue N.

Trucks are routinely bypassing 16th Street and using 19th Street N as a cut-through between 13th Avenue and 22nd Avenue N.

One resident told me that the trucks are barreling through the residential area as early as 5 a.m. and the procession continues up until 6 p.m.

To further frustrate residents, "No Trucks" signs are posted on 19th Street at 13th Avenue N and 22nd Avenue N, but they seem to be useless.

In addition to noise, residents are concerned about safety, since there is an elementary school and public ballfield in the area.

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Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

Please share your traffic concerns, comments and questions with Dr. Delay via e-mail at docdelayyahoo.com.

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