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Safety improvements are poised for 4th Street North

Veronica Brezina

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4th Street N. Google Maps.

The four-mile 4th Street North corridor, known for being the site of hundreds of crashes over the years, will see major changes to address the existing design issues and provide better protection for pedestrians. 

“We’ve had concerns for years [from residents and business owners] about safety along 4th Street North, particularly about pedestrian safety as well as the lack of accessible crossings, and the space between the traffic lights,” Evan Mory, transportation and parking management director at the city, said during the St. Petersburg City Council meeting on Thursday. 

The study area is four miles of a six-lane divided road with a lack of pedestrian crossings and bike lanes. The thoroughfare is designed for commuters to travel 45 miles per hour. 

Florida Department of Transportation engineer Michael Ojo presented the slides to the city council showing the current conditions and planned changes. 

From 2014 to 2018, there have been 1,501 crashes with nine fatalities in the corridor. The crashes break down to 827 at the intersection, and 389 at non-signalized intersections, resulting in seven fatalities. Just under 40 of the crashes occurred while a driver was making a U-turn. 

The changes FDOT is planning:

  • Extending 11 left-turn lanes 
  • Converting 36 medians to directional median openings
  • Closing eight median openings at 36th, 47th, 52nd, 70th, East 74th, West 74th, West 76th and 90th avenues.
  • Constructing nine new pedestrian crosswalks with signals

A slide showing the extension of 11 left-hand turn lanes for 4th Street North. FDOT/City of St. Petersburg documents

“We do not have enough pedestrian crossings,” Ojo said, highlighting one of the more significant changes.

“If you put a crossing where nobody crosses, they will still continue to cross where they used to. We have nine of them all-new and they are going to protect pedestrians with signals,” he said, explaining how the pedestrian’s behavior should change from darting into the street to utilizing the signalized crossings. 

A rendering of a new signalized pedestrian crossing at 4th Street North. FDOT/ City of St. Petersburg documents

The signals will have green, yellow and red lights rather than flashing beacons, which can be seen at other crossings. Ojo said the city is working on replacing the existing beacons where it is appropriate, based on the number of lanes. 

There is also going to be lighting at every mid-block crossing and landscaping in the median. The speed limit is expected to remain. 

Construction is slated to start this winter and will take 200 days for completion. Two “inside” lanes will be closed to protect the construction workers. 

“We are trying not to close too many median openings at a time so businesses can still have access,” Ojo said. 

Councilmember Ed Montanari said the Chamber of Commerce will also reach out to those businesses. 

The project, estimated to cost over $5 million, is being funded through the fiscal year 2023 budget. 

A public hearing was held in 2021 and 1,600 notices about the changes were mailed to surrounding residents and businesses. 

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Eva Kowalewski

    September 22, 2023at8:07 am

    New left turning lanes are too small,too square,too narrow,too confusing and looking too busy.People are already driving against the traffic and confused where they should take the turn.The old turns were just fine,smooth for drivers.Hate to see all greenery go down.What a waste of money.It could’ve been used to refresh old turns.Everybody I’m taking to hates the idea.

  2. Avatar

    steve byars

    June 6, 2022at1:38 pm

    Slow this street down! I’ve never lived anywhere in my life where more drivers had complete disregard for the speed limit and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, let alone other drivers. This re-do of 4th is a welcome and much needed project.

  3. Avatar

    Anita

    June 5, 2022at1:49 pm

    If people would just do the speed limit and stay off their phones it would solve all, but that is not going to happen. Like stated above landscaped medians would definitely help if they are kept up.It’s proven to slow traffic. I travel every day all day for work throughout Fla and found that Naples heavy landscaping definitely helps with slowing people down
    and no, not all old people down there anymore. They believe in this and it seems to work. I deal with the problem daily in places where I can’t even do a U-turn because people are doing 60 in a 40 mph zone. People are always going to speed today no matter what, But if you take away conveniences of places to do U-turns people are going to get more frustrated and U-turn lanes are going to get more backed up in other places .

  4. Avatar

    Paul

    June 4, 2022at8:19 am

    I totally agree that there aren’t enough pedestrian crossing areas on 4th Street. But it’s also true that ones that exist AREN’T USED. Up and down 4th Street its a common occurrence to see people weaving through 6 lanes of traffic less than a block from a traffic light/marked crosswalk. Of course, the police have better things to do than issue jaywalking tickets but maybe just a conversation with the pedestrians putting their lives at risk would be worthwhile to help change behavior.

  5. Avatar

    Ryan Todd

    June 3, 2022at11:10 pm

    Any design interventions that align the speed limit with the design speed – such as landscaped medians – are welcomed and appreciated.

    What else could the traffic engineers do to reduce design speed? Reducing lane widths is a cheap way to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on 4th St.

  6. Avatar

    John Donovan

    June 3, 2022at4:24 pm

    Two more thoughts. 1. To be clear, the left turn lane extension are because there will be more cars, waiting longer, to turn left. 2. What did the artificial intelligence (‘Google Maps”) say about changing traffic patterns, travel times, and suggested alternate routes (1st St N) If they don’t use AI, they are guessing.

  7. Avatar

    John Donovan

    June 3, 2022at3:24 pm

    PS. Never received any notice about changes or public hearing. And no one who received a notice owns the streets any more than any other resident of St Petersburg.

  8. Avatar

    John Donovan

    June 3, 2022at3:21 pm

    This will force more traffic on to 1st Street N, from 38th Ave N and northbound. And from 78th Ave N southbound. And many of the cross streets between 1st and 4th. Any consideration given to those various neighborhood streets? I’ve lived in the area for 30+ years and have used most every road in the area and it took me less than 60 seconds to come up with all southbound and northbound travel alternatives. No less cars, just in different places. Idiot proofing rarely works. (The work with medians and left turn lanes is welcome)

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