Dr. Delay: St. Petersburg's traffic light synchronization hinges on 34th Street

Lorrie Lykins
Lorrie Lykins
Published Aug. 14, 2017

A few times a week I drive my wife to work at the Dali Museum. Our preferred route is to take First Avenue S all the way and on most days, we can time it to get all green lights. In the past six weeks or so, the signals at 22nd Street and 20th Street have been retimed and stop us dead in our tracks. Can you explain the change?

Robert and Kathie Hurt

We asked Tim Funderburk, St. Petersburg's traffic signal coordinator, to fill us in on the recent retiming of signals on First Avenue N, First Avenue S, and Central Avenue.

Funderburk told us the timing of these signals was adjusted to coordinate with the state Department of Transportation's retiming of traffic signals on U.S. 19 (also known as 34th Street), which intersects with those three avenues. The cycle length of these three intersections was lengthened from 80 seconds to 120 seconds, which threw them out of sync with the rest of the signals on the streets and understandably led to many complaints.

To correct the slowdown, the cycle lengths of the intersections of First Avenues N and S and Central Avenue between 16th Street and 58th Street were also changed from 80 seconds to 120 seconds, so that they are now synchronized. This means that if you start at 16th Street heading west and stick to the speed limit, you should be able to get to 58th Street without hitting a red light. But a motorist starting at any other point along these routes will probably not experience the same smooth synchronization.

An issue with lengthening the signal cycle is that we now have longer intervals, meaning both the main roadways and the side streets are impacted, which is why, as you noted, you are experiencing a longer stop at 20th Street and 22nd Street.

Funderburk is looking into shortening the intervals for those side streets and says his aim is to maintain good synchronization where it existed before for the streets that intersect First Avenues N and S, and Central Avenue, but, as always, priority goes to the main streets because they have heavier traffic volume.

Barricade watch

Be alert to possible nighttime lane closures on the southbound Howard Frankland Bridge between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Friday through Saturday nights.

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