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St. Petersburg leaders to receive update on MLK complete streets project

Posted at 7:40 AM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 08:04:03-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When city leaders announced changes coming to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street in 2018, many residents, business owners and drivers had negative perceptions about how this would shape the corridor.

At Thursday afternoon's city council meeting, they'll receive an update showing how effective or ineffective the construction has been. The MLK complete street project runs from 30th Avenue to 5th Avenue. The construction added crosswalks with flashing beacons, buffered bike lanes and even took away lanes. That was the biggest point of contention because drivers were worried it would cause more back ups.

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New data in Thursday's presentation show that it does take longer for drivers to get down MLK, but only an average of about 7 to 17 seconds. The project was also meant to slow down drivers since sometimes road repaving can cause drivers to speed.

Numbers found drivers heading northbound didn't speed any more or less, but if they were going southbound they slowed down. The data shows drivers going more than 10 mph over the speed limit decreased by 41%. Drivers going more than 15 mph over the speed limit decreased by 63%.

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The project has also attracted more pedestrians and bicyclists to the corridor as well as increased people using public transit. In a survey, 57% of bicyclists say they feel "more comfortable" riding down MLK. Unfortunately crash data shows one cyclist was killed due to a distracted driver.

The city plans to keep the momentum going by adding new parking at the south end of the corridor, adding flex posts in the bike lane buffers, adjust traffic signal timing, and consider adding new crosswalks at 26th Ave. and 14th Ave.