BY MARCY SHORTUSE - You’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the one-way traffic pattern that will begin at the south bridge on January 22. However, as of last Monday drivers might have been confused as they sat at the south bridge, watching a flag man direct one-way traffic.
This week’s sporadic traffic at the bridge was a temporary situation when workers were blacktopping the bridge and road that we will be using soon, but there may be a few more one-way delays before the big one-way delay.
According to Jim Cooper, executive director of the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority, workers will be finishing up filling up caps on pilings with concrete. That might cause a few more delays prior to January 22, but they should be brief.
He agreed, traffic delays can be annoying ... especially when there are more one-way delays to be had at the “stinky ditches of 45th Street.” And he is not exempt.
“When I was coming on-island the other day I was stopped at the bridge, then stopped where they are filling in the ditches,” he said. “It was a Lee County truck I was behind that was working on the ditches, so I had to wait for them to pull in, pull out, then pull in again. It can be an irritant, but that comes with progress.”
Electronic sign boards were put up this week as well, warning drivers of what is to come on January 22. When the one-way traffic lights are installed they will be on timers, not motion sensors. GIBA officials met this week with Chief C.W. Blosser of the Boca Grande Fire Department, in order to fine-tune the details with the one-way road in case of an emergency.
According to J.P. Donaghue, the project manager for the fixed bridges from KCCS, explained that the timing of the lights was based on traffic study numbers that had been gathered since 2009.
“A professional, third-party engineer crunched those numbers,” he said. “Then they decided the timing of the lights. They will be slightly adjusted during peak traffic hours, to account for times when there are more people coming on-island than off, and vice versa. It won’t be a long period of time to wait, either way. If you’re driving late at night and are held up at the light, it would still be a pretty terrible idea to go when the light is red. It won’t be a long wait at all.”
Cooper said that the lights will be in place for 30 days, and during that time there will be two weeks of construction during the evening hours.
“I think they will have to work at least 13 nights of the 30 days,” he said. “They will probably work several of the first 30 days in day mode, then shift into day and night mode then for maybe two weeks. They will more than likely finish up the last week in day mode again. However it works, they absolutely have to get it done during that time period.”
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