Park Boulevard between Seminole Boulevard and the intersection of Park Street/Starkey Road has resembled a parking lot lately, especially during rush hour. We found eastbound traffic backed up for nearly a mile one morning last week and sat through five cycles of the traffic light before getting through the intersection. It's smooth sailing after clearing the intersection.
Reader Rebecca Chase sent us an SOS last week, asking whether we could get to the bottom of whatever the problem might be. Chase wrote:
"Heeeeelp us! We live near the intersection of Park Boulevard and Starkey Road. Eastbound traffic in the mornings has become unbearable. We have lived here for eleven years and yes, traffic does increase with the start of school, but not to this extent. From 7 to 9 a.m. each morning the intersection is backed up 20-25 car lengths. Any help would be appreciated."
We contacted Pinellas County Public Works and inquired about the intersection's sudden transformation into a mini version of the Los Angeles freeways. Spokeswoman Meg Korakis told us that the county's traffic engineering department is aware of the backups and will repaira failure of vehicle detection equipment. The work should be done this week.
But this leads me to another issue and an opportunity to bloviate about a pet peeve of mine - and judging from the mail, yours too.
The traffic slowdown related to malfunctioning equipment is compounded by knuckleheads who squat in the right lane and sit through an entire red light signal cycle, oblivious to the dozens of vehicles behind them waiting to turn right.
This is unavoidable and understandable in some intersections where there are businesses or streets just beyond the traffic signal that a vehicle will be turning into. But eastbound Park Boulevard is not one of them. The one business immediately beyond the intersection is closed, so in my book, unless you plan to turn right from Park Boulevard onto Park Street, you should do everyone else a favor and stay out of the right lane.
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Economy, ridership preclude stop near park
The project to widen Walsingham Road has reader David McCoy wondering about plans for a bus stop near Walsingham Park, Heritage Village and the Pinellas County Extension.
We checked in with Bob Lasher of PSTA and shared McCoy's question with him. Lasher told us that in 2001, PSTA began diverting its Route 61 along Old Walsingham Road during the middle of the day so that it served the park and Heritage Village. But, Lasher said, ridership was so sparse along that loop that it was discontinued in 2004 because PSTA couldn't justify the expense.
The current Route 59 is the only one that runs along Walsingham/Ulmerton and serves the park, Heritage Village and the Pinellas County Extension. Lasher said the downturn in the economy, combined with the impact of Amendment 1, has stretched PSTA's budget, and even if he could justify running a route along that portion of Old Walsingham Road, there's no money to pay for it.
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38th Avenue N
Road reopens with smooth ride, little thrill
In case you missed the announcement, 38th Avenue N has reopened. For those who may not have been around the past four months, the road has been closed for the completion of an extensive improvement project that required that the entire roadbed and drainage system be removed and upgraded because groundwater conditions had compromised the pavement.
In addition to the new smooth-as-silk pavement, the Doc especially likes the little jumping-off effect one gets when heading westbound right where the old and new road meet. It's sort of a thrill-hill effect, only without the anticipation of an incline. Check it out for yourself.
Until next week, happy and safe motoring!
Doc Delay is on Twitter! Get news from the road at twitter.com/DocDelay. Please e-mail Dr. Delay at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.