New traffic sign on US 19 in Palm Harbor draws criticism

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — A new traffic sign on US 19 in Palm Harbor has many people wondering why it was put there. They say the sign won't change driver habits. Many of them say it's also common sense.

"The sign, I’m sorry, but you almost get a chuckle out of it. It’s crazy - use caution all the time," said Bill Lumley, who lives down the block from US 19. 

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The sign reads, "When congested, use caution." The Florida Department of Transportation says there are a lot of crashes near that intersection and says the sign was put in to warn drivers of southbound cars in the right lane potentially turning.

Lumley says the road, and that turn in particular, is very scary. "It’s just dangerous dangerous spot."

He rides a scooter but doesn't dare take it on U.S. 19.

"Everyone is going way too fast all the time, it’s just one of the most dangerous highways I’ve ever seen, and I come from Jersey and we’ve got some bad highways," said Lumley.

FDOT is planning ways to make parts of 19 in North Pinellas safer. Part of the plans include adding overpasses at a SR 580, and Curlew Road and frontage roads for business access. 

Some say they would like to see the turn lanes taken out altogether and that is exactly what happened south of Palm Harbor. Traveling in the Clearwater/Countryside area, median turn lanes were taken out and concrete barriers were put up. 

"If they come down any farther, they're going to be putting us in the ditch," said Rebecca Bell, who isn't sure adding overpasses is a good idea. She works at Stellie Bellies Kiddie and Maternity Resale Boutique on 19. She doesn't know if there's enough room. She agrees the road and those turn lanes are unsafe, and says taking them away will help divert people to traffic lights.

"I think if you took away one or two and make people go to the traffic light and force them to use that turn signal it might be a little safer for everybody," she said. She also thinks 

She also believes overpasses will allow customers to bypass businesses along 19 which could hurt bottom lines. 

The overpass and frontage road work is starting in 2020, according to FDOT. 

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