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Dr. Delay: One right-turn sign on Indian Rocks Road stands out

I hope you can answer this question for me. I live very close to the intersection of Indian Rocks Road and West Bay Drive and I don't understand why the right turn lane from northbound Indian Rocks Road to eastbound West Bay Drive has a "No right turn on red'' sign but the other three right turns at that intersection are "Right turn on red after stop."

Oliver L. Kugler

Belleair Bluffs installed the northbound "No right turn on red'' sign in this location because of the number of crashes between northbound right-turning vehicles and eastbound vehicles on West Bay Drive. Additionally, there were conflicts and resulting crashes between the northbound right-turning vehicles and the southbound left-turning vehicles, according to a traffic engineer with Pinellas County. The sign provides a break in traffic for drivers trying to enter/exit Valencia Boulevard, which is about 60 feet east of Indian Rocks Road.

For over a year now we have been trying to get the city of Clearwater to permit a "Right turn only'' sign from Countryside Boulevard to go north on Belcher Road. The city has done studies in the past and they see the need. For a good while now they have been trying to obtain approval from Pinellas County.

F. Allen White

The Doc checked in with Paul Bertels, Clearwater's traffic operations manager, who said he has looked into requests made by residents of the Village on the Green neighborhood to consider making the southbound curb lane of Countryside Boulevard between Enterprise Road and Belcher Road a right-turn-only lane. Bertels noted that this request is based on concern for the convenience of motorists who wish to turn right on to Belcher, not safety issues. The current operation means motorists wanting to turn right at Belcher must sit through a red traffic signal cycle if they're behind a vehicle going straight through the intersection rather than turning.

Bertels has conducted a preliminary assessment and concluded that the city of Clearwater would have no objection to making the lane right turn only, but traffic engineers with Pinellas County must agree.

The area is being studied as part of an overall modification to the rest of the intersection, with particular focus on safety, which, as Bertels noted, always takes precedence over convenience. Traffic engineers with the county are looking into the operation of the intersection of Countryside Boulevard, Belcher Road and Oak Neck, which would be affected by this lane change. According to Bertels, this is an unusual intersection from a geometry perspective, and any change to one approach of lane use affects the entire operation of the intersection, which is a major consideration that requires a great deal of modeling and study. "For example, one idea we discussed was channelizing the southbound two lanes on Belcher approaching this intersection into one free-flowing lane that would use the curb lane and no longer stop at the signal," Bertels said. Stay tuned.

• • •

If you're a senior driver or know a senior driver who could use some supportive resources and information, check out the website safeandmobileseniors.org, designed by the Safe Mobility for Life Coalition, a nonprofit organization established to address the safety and mobility needs of Florida's aging population. Coalition members include the state Department of Transportation, the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, and two dozen other national, state and local aging and safety advocates. The website provides resources like driver assessments and information on safe driver events and services.

Email Dr. Delay at docdelay@gmail.com or follow Dr. Delay on Twitter @AskDrDelay.

Dr. Delay: One right-turn sign on Indian Rocks Road stands out 12/08/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 8, 2012 3:31am]
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