ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— A roundabout could soon be coming to the front entrance leading to the upcoming St. Pete Pier. The city council is considering making that a reality. As part of our commitment to drive Tampa Bay forward, ABC Action News is looking into the reasons this project would make both driver and pedestrians the clear winners.
Daniel James has been selling hot dogs on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Bayshore Drive for a decade. But while the pier gets a facelift the traffic around it has only gotten worse.
"Right here on this corner?" laughed James. "God almighty I’ve seen cars wiped out right there that disregard the light."
The city's plan for change is a roundabout.
"I was just in Ireland five years ago with my siblings and there are so many roundabouts," said Kevin O'Farrell, a resident. "They’re fun, they slow down traffic. They’re traffic calming."
O’Farrell gives it his seal of approval because he walks along here on a weekly basis. FDOT studies show roundabouts could cut the number of severe crashes by 76% and lead to a 90% drop in deaths.
Ken Sides is a roundabout expert. He helped design the first one in the Bay on Clearwater Beach. He says there's no reason to get confused with a roundabout which is simpler than a regular intersection
"There are about 32 places where the paths of vehicles cross in a modern roundabout. There's only 1/4 as many places," said Sides.
Despite that, we saw a driver get confused on a roundabout during the interview.
"He’s making a wrong turn but nobody dies at 15 miles an hour," said Sides.
Roundabouts force a slower speed, therefore, reducing the potential and severity of a crash.
"Accept a little bit of change. A roundabout is no big deal," said O'Farrell.
But before the roundabout becomes reality, council members will need to approve ordinance changes.