FDOT has designs to ease two traffic hot spots, but needs money to put plans into action

Posted at 5:02 PM, Apr 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-25 17:42:40-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Just mention traffic and drivers start to voice their frustrations. 

"I get mad!" exclaimed James Little.
 Michelle Sulivan said, "It's a headache, there's stress and it's worrisome."
Florida’s Department of Transportation recognizes the concerns. That’s why the state ear marked $7 million just for new plans to ease traffic congestion.
The problem is they don’t have the money yet. They hope Pinellas County leaders will direct some money their way. 
Here are two major areas of concern: a stretch of highway between 54th Avenue South and Gandy Bouelvard.
And then there’s this hot spot: southbound travelers do not have one single continuous lane from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to the Howard Frankland Bridge.
Drivers headed north have only one, and that means drivers are trying to merge.
"They take it as far as they can take it and then they merge at the very last minute. That is a big stress to me, especially on the highway when you are going 60 to 70 mph," said Sullivan.
State data shows crashes are up by nearly 15 percent from just the past couple of years.
The plan calls for reconfiguring the interstate on the bridge, providing two continuous lanes, and FDOT also wants to widen and re-stripe some roads near Gandy.
And while FDOT needs 65 million in taxpayer dollars to get this done, it might be worth the cost.
More accidents mean higher insurance rates. Studies find Florida is among the top five highest in the nation.
Drivers pay more than $1,000 per year in a three driver scenario, leaving many thinking improvements are needed.
Action News asked FDOT when the agency plan to present the plan to county leaders. A spokesperson said they hope to soon. But there's no definitive timetable.
And if this does happen, they hope to get it done without shutting down roads.