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4th Street North Safety Improvement Project

Work TypeMedian Modifications
Limitsfrom 30th Ave N. to 94th Ave N.
Length4 miles
CitySt. Petersburg
Road4th StUS 92
Design Cost$632,000
Contact Information
Design Manager
Michael Ojo, PE.813-975-6266Michael.ojo@dot.state.fl.us
Media Contact
Kris Carson813-975-6060Kristen.carson@dot.state.fl.us

Project Files

Meeting of June 2, 2022

TO: The Honorable Gina Driscoll, Chair, and Members of City Council
SUBJECT: Update on the Florida Department of Transportation’s 4th Street North Access

Management and Safety Improvement Project

EXPLANATION: At the June 2nd City Council meeting, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) staff will provide City Council with an update regarding corridor safety improvements along 4th Street North between 30th Avenue North and 94th Avenue North as the project is entirely within the State’s jurisdiction (State Route 687). It includes extending left-turn lane storage at eleven intersections, converts 36 median openings to directional median openings while closing 8 median openings, and adds nine new pedestrian crosswalks to be controlled by pedestrian signals, all to address documented safety issues along this approximately 4-mile stretch of 4th Street North. The State previously completed a similar project with access changes, medians, and added crosswalks for 4th Street from 5th Avenue North to 30th Avenue North.

Additional investments by FDOT to improve safety along 4th Street will be made in the next year to construct pedestrian bulb-outs in the downtown core, a project that will mirror the recently completed construction on 3rd Street. South of downtown, 4th Street is a city-owned roadway. Accordingly, after this project, the state will have improved safety conditions where necessary for almost the entire length of State Route 687 within St. Petersburg’s city limits.

Because the project is anticipated to impact to 4th Street North, a major north-south corridor, and includes safety and aesthetic features that are of interest to the community, Administration has brought forth this report item to highlight the project and provide Council with an opportunity to learn more about the anticipated work, including the new pedestrian crosswalks and their signals as well as landscape elements within the concrete separators.

The planned improvements included in the scope of the current project were initially developed from a comprehensive access management safety study conducted in 2015 that also looked at crashes across all roadway users – motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The crash analysis was updated in 2019 to consider traffic crashes between 2014 and 2018 and found a total of 1,501 crashes with nine resulting in fatal injuries. They are meant to address many of the systemic issues contributing to these crashes, both in terms of frequency and severity of injuries.

In 2020, the FDOT initiated design for the planned improvements and conducted a project public hearing in May 2021 to garner and address community feedback. The project design is now completed, and work continues to prepare bidding/letting documents in anticipation of construction scheduled to begin late this year.

As will be explained in greater detail during the report, the new pedestrian crossings are being addressed in an innovative yet intuitive manner by the FDOT. Due to the width and relatively high speeds of this seven-lane wide section of the roadway, typical Rapid Rectangular Flashing

Beacons (RRFBs) are not considered the best technology for alerting motorists to the presence of pedestrians at the crosswalks. Instead, a solution involving what generally appears to be a standard traffic signal will be used for each of the nine new pedestrian crossings. The signal phasing and operations will be different than a typical signal, but standard red, yellow, and green lights will illuminate to advise drivers whether they should proceed (green), prepare to stop (yellow), stop and wait (red), or stop and then proceed if clear to do so (flashing red).

This approach is expected to achieve high levels of compliance from motorists which is particularly important due to higher motorists’ speeds and greater exposure times for pedestrians crossing the street when compared to slower, narrower roadways where RRFBs are a better option. At the same time, this specialized signal will induce much less delay for motorists than what would typically occur at a regular signalized intersection due to their relatively short cycle lengths and the incorporation of a red flashing phase.

The new signals are being designed with all the necessary components to be coordinated with the adjacent traffic signals on 4th Street. During construction, FDOT will work with the City and the contactor to coordinate the signals. The City and FDOT will monitor conditions following construction to be sure operations for both motorists and pedestrians remain safe. If it’s determined to be in the best interest of safety, the signals can be taken out of coordination if necessary.

The goal, though, in having these more frequent and well-spaced designated crossings is to help induce people to choose one of these safe locations to cross the street such that the severity and frequency of injuries and fatalities is greatly improved. A video illustrating the signal operations is included in the presentation for reference.

It should be noted that median closures and modifications can have an unintended consequence regarding access in terms of requiring some drivers to go out of their way in certain circumstances to enter or depart a particular driveway or side street. However, these modifications have the positive impact of not only increased safety by eliminating the most dangerous conflict movements, but also the ability to elongate turn bays that are currently not sufficiently long for deceleration and vehicle stacking required to keep adjacent through lanes clear. As was demonstrated during the public hearing and will be presented in greater detail in the report, having this spillover currently causes safety issues with vehicles spilling into the left-most through lane.

By elongating the turn bays, traffic will flow more efficiently along the corridor and there will be fewer injuries and delays caused by crashes. Accordingly, the inconvenience of access modifications on some driving trips is likely positively offset by overall less delay along the corridor. Further, certain concrete medians, if they are of a sufficient size, may be good candidates for such elements as landscaping that can serve to improve the overall aesthetics of the corridor.

The report will cover these issues as well as next steps and the anticipated implementation schedule for construction.

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