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DON'T BLOCK SIDEWALKS

Weekend outings to the beach can be low-cost fun, but careless parking can end the day on a sour note. A reader recently visited Pass-a-Grille and headed home $100 lighter:

"A couple of Sundays ago we went down to Pass-a-Grille beach where my daughter lives and parked in her driveway. My daughter has always parked in her driveway, even though blocking the sidewalk partially (leaving room for baby carriages, etc., to get around). We all got parking tickets for blocking the sidewalk, which cuts across the driveway. The traffic officer told us that a person living down the street complained, so he wrote up all the cars. When I discussed this with another officer the next day, I told him that I saw over a dozen cars blocking sidewalks driving down from my house a mile away. The officer stated that they only ticket if they get a complaint. This seems very discriminatory."

Parking in a driveway in a way that blocks sidewalks violates the city's rights to its property and prevents the public from using sidewalks. So park with caution, folks.

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CLEARWATER

Oak Avenue signal timing a headache

Wendy Wolfson wrote about unsynchronized traffic lights heading north on Oak Avenue in Clearwater: "Part of Oak Avenue runs between Chestnut Street and Court Street. The only two traffic lights on Oak Avenue are at Chestnut Street and at Court Street. Both lights ... take a very long time to change, and since they are only one block apart, why can't they be synchronized?"

Paul Bertels, manager of Clearwater's traffic operations division, said this stretchis one side of a four-sided box he is challenged with coordinating.

Bertels said the south side from Oak/Chestnut to Chestnut/Fort Harrison is coordinated between the two signals and is coordinated with the east side of the box between Chestnut/Fort Harrison and Court/Fort Harrison. Likewise, these two sides are coordinated with the north side intersections at Court/Fort Harrison and Court/Osceola and Court/Oak. These three sides of the box are made up of the streets around the courthouse (Chestnut Street, Fort Harrison Avenue and Court Street), which carry the heaviest volumes of through-traffic, so priority is given to handle the through movements on these streets.

The west side, which is Oak Avenue, mainly carries turning traffic at one end and low volumes of through traffic at the other end. At the south end of Oak at Chestnut there is no southbound through movement, only a southbound left turn as Oak is one-way northbound south of this intersection. At the north end of Oak at Court Street there is a northbound through movement into the parking garage on the north side of Court Street, but volume is minimal, so priority is given to the westbound through movement on Court.

The upshot, Bertels says, is that when the four streets around the courthouse are laid into a time-space matrix, the Oak Avenue side is not a priority due to traffic flow and volume. "It may be possible to assist Oak Avenue later this year when new software is implemented on this street system around the courthouse. The new software is adaptive and may be able to better assign timing to Oak Avenue to fit it better into the groove," he said.

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Youths can ride free in summer with Haul Pass

PSTA's annual Summer Youth Haul Pass program, which provides unlimited transportation for kids 18 and younger, kicks off May 15 and runs through Aug. 31. It offers kids unlimited countywide transportation throughout the summer for $35. Middle and high school age kids will need a school-, government- or PSTA-issued photo ID. PSTA-issued cards can be obtained free at PSTA customer service centers. First-time riders can log on to PSTA.net and use PSTA's Google Trip Planner to plan a ride, or get personalized riding instruction with PSTA's free "Show Me" service by calling the PSTA InfoLine at (727) 540-1900.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

E-mail Dr. Delay at DocDelay@gmail.com to share traffic concerns.

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