DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Pinellas Trail Crossing at Skinner Boulevard is the busiest trail crossing in Pinellas County and while it’s quickly becoming more popular, it’s also becoming more dangerous.
Now, FDOT leaders are speeding up safety solutions for the intersection. FDOT Secretary David Gwynn recently recommended installing a midblock pedestrian signal, which requires cyclists to stop and activate the traffic signal. Drivers will face a red traffic signal instead of the current blinking yellow lights. The new traffic signal will correspond with the nearby light at Alt 19 and Skinner Boulevard.
Construction will be completed by Pinellas County in the next three to four months. It comes as Pinellas County, FDOT and Forward Pinellas are working together on a longer-term solution. Construction will begin in 2024 on a complete streets project to add in roundabouts at Skinner/Douglas and Skinner/Highland, reducing traffic lanes from 4 to 2, widening the bike lanes, adding on-street parking and reducing the speed limit.
Eric Davis, the pitmaster at Eli’s Barbeque, which is right next to the trail crossing, is excited that a temporary quick fix is being put in place. All too often he says he is forced to dash from the smoker to the intersection, rushing to the rescue of walkers and bikers hit by cars.
“Death has struck already here at this corner and it’s heartbreaking to see it again over and over again. On a weekly basis, somebody gets struck,” Davis explained.
The Pinellas trail crossing at Skinner Boulevard is the busiest pedestrian crossing in Pinellas County and in the past five years, 19 walkers and bikers have been badly injured there. In November, a cyclist died. Down the length of Skinner Boulevard, there have been 125 crashes in the past 6 years.
“It is absolutely frightening some days. It is so dangerous and something has to be done about it,” explained cyclist Heather Decal.
Transportation leaders recently added sensors that blink yellow as soon as a walker or biker approaches the intersection without having to hit the crosswalk button. Yet, FDOT leaders say it’s not doing enough as crashes are increasing.
It's a short-term solution coming in three to four months.
Csaba Ujfalusi, an employee at Kafe Racer, thinks it’s a great idea. “100% needs to be done. Totally agree with that because there’s just too many incidents of this happening.”
But even with all those changes, Whit Blanton of Forward Pinellas says pedestrians, cyclists and drivers still have to be extra cautious by activating the crosswalk and always making eye contact.
“Courtesy goes a long way. Courtesy and respect,” he said.
You can read more about the upcoming changes for Skinner Boulevard here: https://www.dunedingov.com/home/showpublisheddocument/20346