The Doc's mailbox has filled up lately with letters from readers expressing varying degrees of dismay regarding the explosion of construction along Bay Pines Boulevard near the Bay Pines/C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center. The most recent construction of a Dunkin' Donuts on the northeast corner of Bay Pines Boulevard and 100th Way has created concern about safety and congestion due to the entrance and exit along Bay Pines Boulevard. It's also generated questions about who approved what.
One reader wrote: "Whoever stamped the plans for this project should be subject to writing up the numerous accident reports that will be generated when traffic gets choked to one lane westbound on Bay Pines Boulevard. The turn lane for the VA medical center already chokes it to two lanes, now it will be reduced to one with the addition of this entrance and associated backups of traffic to Dunkin' Donuts."
Another wrote: "The authorities have apparently been resistant to complaints about the problems with the new median on 100th Way just north of Bay Pines Boulevard. You might test it driving south on 100th Way from 54th Avenue N and then trying to visit a shop on the east side of 100th Way opposite the new Walmart, and then continuing south after the visit to Bay Pines Boulevard. Due to the new median, it can't be done without difficult and dangerous U-turns."
And: "The DOT did a fabulous job extending the turn lane eastbound for Walmart, yet did not a thing for the VA Medical Center turn lane westbound; thanks DOT. The writing is on the wall for this nightmare about to unfold."
We shared these concerns with officials at the city of Seminole and Pinellas County. Jeremy Hockenbury, Seminole's director of public works, said, "The Dunkin' Donuts project and the concerns with the 100th Way access should be referred to Pinellas County, since it is under their jurisdiction."
Thomas Washburn, manager of Pinellas County's traffic engineering section, told us that the building of the Dunkin' Donuts at Bay Pines Boulevard and 100th Way is unusual because it is built on land that is within the city of Seminole at the intersection of a state road (Bay Pines Boulevard) and a county road (100th Way), so we have three distinct entities involved.
According to Washburn, the city has authority over the site plan and the uses that are allowed on the property; the state Department of Transportation has authority over the driveway connection on Bay Pines Boulevard; Pinellas County has authority of the driveway connection on 100th Way. Pinellas County issued a right-of-way permit for the construction of the driveway on 100th Way.
"We did require that the driveway on 100th Way be located as far north as possible in order to minimize impacts at the intersection of Bay Pines Boulevard and 100th Way. The driveway is limited to a right-in/right-out operation, which should further minimize impacts and disruption along 100th Way," Washburn said.
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I am very concerned about pedestrians attempting to cross Ulmerton Road at Seminole Boulevard on the east side of Seminole Boulevard. The walk signal comes on at the same time as the northbound traffic light and cars turn right onto Ulmerton at the same time pedestrians are starting to cross Ulmerton. I have personally seen at least four instances of pedestrians almost being struck by turning cars, including elderly women and some women with baby strollers. I feel that a lit up "do not turn" sign like the one at Seminole Boulevard and East Bay Drive is in order for this crossing before someone is hurt or killed.
Thanks for raising the red flag about this. We shared your note with both the state Department of Transportation and Pinellas County's traffic representatives. We heard back from DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson, who told us that new signs instructing turning motorists to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians will be installed for all approaches to this intersection.
Email Dr. Delay at firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail to P.O. Box 4954, Seminole FL 33775, to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Follow @AskDrDelay.