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Dr. Delay: Malfunctioning light fuels speeders near St. Petersburg’s Bear Creek Elementary

Drivers got a free pass to speed near the elementary school for the last month while an overhead flashing signal was not working. It’s now fixed.
The city relies on crossing guards and citizens to let them know when an overhead flashing light is not working. But they had no idea that a flashing light near Bear Creek Elementary School has been out for more than a month until the Doc stepped in.
Published Oct. 28

ST. PETERSBURG — At the intersection of Fifth Avenue S and 61st Street the posted speed limit is 15 miles per hour when flashing. And less than 500 feet away, there is another sign that reads: “Speeding fines doubled”

But if the light is not flashing, does it count?

According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, the answer is no.

“If a yellow light is not working, we’d enforce the posted speed limit at that time," said spokeswoman, Sandra Bentil.

“Now if the light is working, we expect people to go that speed.”

The thought came to mind after a reader, Candy White, wrote the Doc after noticing several drivers speeding in front of the school since the light wasn’t flashing.

White said the light would only flash in the afternoon, and not in the morning.

So the Doc reached out to the city’s public works department on Oct. 25 and thanks to Doc’s inquiry, the malfunctioning light was fixed on Monday.

The overhead signal has been out for at least a month due to a dying battery, and if it weren’t for White and the Doc, it might have been longer.

DiAnna Rawleigh, the city’s stormwater, pavement and traffic operations director, said it was the first time she had heard of it, but they are now devising a plan to prevent this from reoccuring.

“The field conditions vary so widely between sites determining exactly when a battery is going to fade is difficult at best,” Rawleigh said.

“We rely on the crossing guards and citizens to let us know. We are now tracking when the batteries are being replaced in an effort to come up with a preventative maintenance plan that will address this issue.”

TRAFFIC UPDATES AND CLOSURES:

Hernando County:

  • Lane closures continue 24 hours a day through Saturday for U.S. 98 new bridge construction of Suncoast Parkway 2, half-mile on each side of Suncoast Parkway (State Road 589)

Hillsborough County:

  • Lane closures continue through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. for Interstate 275 operational improvements from west of State Road 60 (Exit 39) to Lois Avenue (Exit 40B)
  • Lane closures continue through Friday at U.S. Business 41 (Highland Avenue and W Violet Street) roadway/pedestrian improvements from Florida Avenue to Ida Street from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Intermittent lane closures continue through Saturday for U.S. 41 repaving from Bullfrog Creek to Denver Street from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Nightly lane closures continue through Friday for SR 60 (Kennedy Boulevard) traffic signal upgrades from Armenia Avenue to Brevard Avenue from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Nightly lane closures continue through Saturday for SR 60 operational improvements at SR 589 (Veteran’s Expressway) from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Nightly lane closures continue through Friday at SR 60 under I-275 from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Lane closures with flagging operations continue through Saturday for County Road 580 (Sam Allen Road) widening from east of Paul Buchman Highway (SR 39A) to Park Road from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Lane closures 24 hours per day through Saturday for CR 672 (Big Bend Road) bridge replacement from Dickman Road to Wyandotte Road
  • As of Monday night, southbound Veterans Expressway (SR 589) has detours nightly at SR 60 (Courtney Campbell Causeway) between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. to install overhead signage on the Veterans Expressway. During this closure, motorists will be detoured around the work zone using exit ramp 2A to westbound SR 60 (Courtney Campbell Causeway), Bayport Drive, South Access Road, and eastbound SR 60 (Courtney Campbell Causeway). The $1.9 million project is expected to finish in late 2019.

Pasco County:

  • Lane closures continue through Friday for U.S. 301/US 98 repaving from Pond Avenue to Long Avenue/Pioneer Museum Road from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Pinellas County:

  • Road closed in Dunedin on Wood Street from New York Avenue to Vine Avenue on Saturday from 2 to 9 p.m. for the Dunedin Block Party. Emergency vehicles will have access at all times
  • The median left turn lane on Belcher Road from Old Post Road to Innisbrook Drive will be closed Friday to complete paving at the Innisbrook Driveway entrance. Work should be completed by 4 p.m.
  • Southbound lane closures continue through Friday for Interstate 275 interchange improvements at 22nd Avenue South from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Lane closures continue through Friday for Alt. U.S. 19 (Fourth Avenue N) repaving from Fifth Avenue N to Third Street from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Intermittent lane closures continue through Friday for Alt. U.S. 19 (Myrtle Avenue) repaving from SR 60 (Chestnut Street) to Mohawk Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Nightly lane closures continue through Friday for SR 679 (Pinellas Bayway Structure E) bridge replacement and repaving from north of Yacht Club Lane to SR 682 from 8:30 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Nightly lane closures continue through Friday for SR 682 (54th Avenue S) repaving from U.S. 19 to 41st St. S from 7:30 p.m. to 8 a.m.

-Gateway Expressway (new tolled roadway system)

  • Lane closures continue through Saturday I-275 from south of Gandy Boulevard (Exit 28) to Fourth Street N (Exit 32) and I-275 northbound Exit 30 ramp to westbound State Road 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) and westbound 118th Avenue (County Road 296), from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Lane closures continue through Saturday for U.S. 19 Frontage Roads from 110th Avenue N to 126th Avenue N, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) entrance ramp to the Bayside Bridge, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) to 49th St. N, and SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from 28th Street to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Monique Welch is a staff writer at the Tampa Bay Times, and the voice behind Dr. Delay. Send your traffic concerns, questions, and pictures of roadway troubles you spot in your travels around the Tampa Bay area to docdelay@tampabay.com. Follow @AskDrDelay.







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