ST. PETERSBURG - The sharp curve’s troubled history is etched in a brick wall that follows Park Street North in St. Petersburg.
The ABC Action News I-Team found 19 reported car crashes in the last four years at a 90-degree curve on Park Street just south of Fifth Avenue North. Three people have been hurt, another driver lost his life.
Michael Frederick, transportation planning manager for the city of St. Petersburg, showed the I-Team multiple traffic controls put in place over the last four years to help put a stop to mostly single-car crashes.
"The standard guard rail, attached to that are curb warning chevrons," said Frederick. "They are reflectors that indicate severity of curve. We have solid lanes and no passing through the curve."
But neighbors say accidents spiked again last month. They counted four car crashes at or near the curve in April alone. Locals blame the spike on what was supposed to be a road improvement.
In early April, county workers black-topped Park Street from several blocks north of it through the turn, despite a neighborhood petition signed by Kim Bowden and others, who are worried that the smooth surface would entice speeders.
"The resurface has made it worse," said Bowden.
Pinellas County Transportation Director Peter Yauch admits residents may be right. Days after the I-Team started asking questions about the safety surrounding the curve, St. Petersburg officials responded by placing a speed-watch sign just north of the turn.
This speed limit sign has proven to be effective in the past but it is only a temporary fix.
Residents want the street turned into a two-lane road.
Officials with both the county and city have not committed to anything that drastic and costly. But now both say they will review new technology and enhanced traffic control options. One option would be a permanent beacon that flashes a red light at speeders in order to get drivers to pay more attention to the road ahead.
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