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
“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.
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.