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FDOT provides update on $13 million St. Pete project

Mark Parker



A city presentation used the Pinellas Trail crossing on 16th St. South next to Tropicana Field to illustrate the overhead beacons. Screengrab.

State and city officials hope an expansive roadway project will reduce the frequency and severity of traffic crashes and improve the quality of life along 5th Avenue North in St. Petersburg.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) held a virtual public meeting in December to discuss repaving and “urban corridor improvements” along a five-mile stretch of Alternate U.S. 19 (5th Ave.). The project will close medians to vehicular traffic at four intersections and add new pedestrian crosswalks.

An FDOT crash analysis found 1,184 crashes with 38 incapacitating injuries and six fatalities on the 5th Avenue corridor between Dr. Martin Luther King St. and Tyrone Boulevard between 2014 and 2018. The city has also undergone exponential growth in recent years.

A city presentation states that angle crashes represent the highest risk for severe or fatal injuries. Following the December meeting, Kristin Carson, public information director for the FDOT’s District 7, told the Catalyst how the new median modifications would provide additional benefits over typical closures.

“In this case, the four median modifications will restrict vehicular traffic to right turns only, plus straight-through on 5th Avenue North,” Carson explained. “By removing the ability to make left turns, we reduce the likelihood of angle crashes as well as head-on crashes in the turn lanes.”

An illustration from the FDOT presentation of potential changes along one portion of 5th Avenue. Screengrab.

She noted that new pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs) would produce gaps in traffic to allow better pedestrian crossing at the modified intersections. Those include marked crosswalks, signage, pedestrian signals and curb ramps.

The city presentation used the Pinellas Trail crossing on 16th St. South next to Tropicana Field to illustrate the overhead beacons. FDOT will install the PHBs at the 22nd, 25th, 27th, 40th, 45th, 46th and 55th Street North intersections.

In addition, workers will install new “neighborhood greenway crossings” at 22nd, 40th, 46th and 55th Streets that will restrict traffic flow to enhance crossing safety and reduce conflicts. Those will provide cutouts for bicycles and pedestrians but prevent vehicles from traveling north or southbound across 5th Avenue.

Once complete, the medians will also restrict traffic from turning left into neighborhoods or onto 5th Avenue from side streets at those intersections. However, the city presentation notes that the “number of restricted movements varies, based on alternative concept designs.”

While the FDOT website states it expects construction to begin by the end of the year, and city and agency officials have led presentations with preliminary renderings, Carson relayed that the project is still in the design phase.

“We do not have a lead contractor yet,” said Carson. “The lead contractor will be selected through a bidding process once the design is completed.”

FDOT expects the repaving aspect to cost $9.4 million, and urban corridor improvements to cost $3.6 million, although Carson said that could change. She noted that FDOT does not anticipate significant traffic disruptions, as at least one lane in each direction will stay open during construction.

An FDOT map of the project’s location. Screengrab.

While most current pedestrian crossings will remain accessible during construction, Carson said her agency would provide temporary detours to mitigate disruptions. While the new medians and beacons should increase safety, she stressed that motorists and cyclists should still exercise caution at those intersections.

“FDOT recommends that children and those not familiar with street cycling walk their bikes across 5th Avenue North while using the pedestrian crossing,” added Carson.

The project will also include a traffic separator near the I-375 onramp and raised pedestrian crosswalks leading to St. Anthony’s Hospital. In addition, FDOT will implement bike lanes from 6th St. to 20th St. N.

FDOT’s website states that workers will “upgrade sub-standard sidewalks to bring them into compliance” and fill sidewalk gaps “to the extent permitted by the right of way.”



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    January 7, 2023at3:39 pm

    In regard to crossings we in Florida have the ridiculous situation that cars have to stop for people IN the crosswalk, it would seem for some (most) drivers that means unless you step out into traffic they need not stop. Other States make it clear that you need to stop for people standing at a crossing. Often drivers do not stop even if you are just stepping onto a crosswalk. Just change the law and the signs, you see someone at a crosswalk, then STOP!

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