Thursday, May 21, 2009

Contact Local Officials For Improved Gandy Bridge Conditions



A few monthss ago, SWFBUD contacted Don Skelton, the DOT chief for our Tampa Bay district, to install Share the Road signs on Gandy Avenue near the Gandy Bridge and clean the Gandy Bridge shoulders more consistently given the fact that Hillsborough and Pinellas counties closed the Friendship Trail. It's very doubtful the Friendship Trail will open again because of structural problems.

Here is Skelton's letter:

The department has evaluated the feasibility of providing for a physical barrier between the traffic lanes and the shoulder of the Gandy Bridge.

Our findings indicate the required six foot, one-way or twelve foot, two-way, clear width required for multi-use paths across the Gandy Bridge cannot be provided for two significant reasons.

First, the bridge structures were not designed to accommodate the additional loading from the weight of the barrier walls required.

Second, the addition of a separated multi-use path would eliminate the required pavement shoulders across the bridge. These pavement shoulders provide for a critical safety feature for vehicles to use for emergency purposes.

In accordance with Section 335.065, Florida Statutes, the department has also evaluated designating the bridge shoulder as a bicycle and pedestrian way by means of pavement markings without a physical barrier.

At present, the department cannot designate the bridge shoulders for bicycles and pedestrians due to a 5 year crash history from 2002-2007 indicating a significant number of crashes involving the barrier walls and also due to the lack of required pedestrian and bicycle railings on top of the barrier walls.

Please note that S.R. 600 (Gandy Boulevard) is not a limited access facility and the department’s policy is not to restrict bicyclists or pedestrians from using the shoulder across the Gandy Bridge.

In consideration of the above, the department will add street signs along the roadway approaches in advance of the bridge ends to indicate that motorists must share the shoulder.

Please expect these signs to be installed within four weeks from this date.

The department appreciates the time you have taken on behalf of thousands of bicyclists in the Tampa Bay area to express interest of a multi-use path across the Gandy Bridge.

Thank you for your interest and concern for the bicyclists in the Tampa Bay area. If there is any additional information we can provide you regarding the Gandy Bridge, please contact Mr. Ronald Chin, P.E., District Design Engineer at Ronald.Chin@dot.state.fl.us or at 813/975-6030.

Sincerely,

Donald J. Skelton, P.E.
District Seven Secretary



But we need more Share the Road signs and we need better bridge shoulder cleaning. SWFBUD definitely supports local efforts by bicyclists to contact our elected officials at the city, county and state levels to install more Share the Road signs and to clean the glass and debris that's present in the shoulders.

It's terrific that an email is circulating advising bicyclists to contact our local elected officials in Tampa, St. Pete and at the state to improve the Gandy Bridge for bicyclists. The email from David Homan offered some good email resources and I'm also printing the proposed message.

Get involved and let your voices be heard:

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio:
http://www.tampagov.net/appl_customer_service_center/form.asp?strServiceID=133

Tampa City Council group contact email address:
tampacitycouncil@tampagov.net

Tampa City Council individual contact web-form:
http://www.tampagov.net/dept_City_Council/about_us/ - - - click on the "Customer Service Request" link next to each coucilmember

Hillsborough County Commissioners contact form:
http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/bocc/about/contactus.cfm


PINELLAS COUNTY AND THE CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker email address:
mayor@stpete.org

St. Petersburg City Council:
Council@stpete.org

Pinellas County Commissioners contact form:
http://www.pinellascounty.org/forms/bcc_form.htm

The proposed letter:

Dear___________:
I am writing to let you know I am one of the cyclists who used to ride across the Friendship Trail Bridge between Tampa and St. Pete as part of my weekend ride (or work commute or whatever).

Since this bridge had to be closed due to structural problems, I am now riding across the Gandy bridge using the same spans as cars and trucks. It is not safe, but the "breakdown" lane can be used as a bike lane and it is my only alternative. I realize the cost to repair the old Friendship Trail would run into the millions and is not likely to ever happen.

For a fraction of this cost, the D.O.T. could install some "Share the Road" signs on the Gandy Bridge to at least make it a little safer for cyclists like me who must now share the road with motorists.

It would also be nice if the breakdown lane could be cleaned more regularly. This lane must now be used as a bike lane, but is frequently littered with debris and broken glass. Though unnoticed to someone traveling in a car or truck at 55+ mph, these are serious hazards to someone on a bicycle.

It would be great if a streetsweeper could pick up the garbage in these lanes once a week, twice a month, or at least once a month. Thanks for your help in making the Gandy bridge safer for all of the cyclists who use it to travel across Tampa Bay.

1 comment:

sean said...

As a previous commuter from Brighton Bay to downtown, I really appreciate your efforts and determination. I believe that we will need the friendship trail in some fashion to keep the two cities tied to one another in this new commuter mentality.