Local authorities are studying 3 major potential changes to St. Pete’s main thoroughfares in the coming years: Conversion of I-175 into an at grade-level boulevard, converting the 3rd and 4th Street paired one-ways into two-ways, and converting the 8th and 9th Street paired one-ways into two-ways.
The genesis for the I-175 conversion proposal stems from the barrier the interstate spur currently creates between downtown and the southern portion of St. Petersburg. Many argue this has held back the neighborhoods in that area from experiencing the same economic development and increased property values the other areas of the city have seen in recent years.
Proponents argue that converting the 1-mile long spur of highway into a ground level boulevard would connect the neighborhoods south of downtown to downtown and the rest of the city. Opponents to the idea argue the removal of the highway would increase travel times, especially for ambulances serving Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospitals.
A modified solution is also being considered that would maintain the highway but drop it below ground level and then put a “cap” or covering over the road that would serve as a connection between the north and south sections.
Forward Pinellas, in partnership with the City of St. Petersburg and the Florida Department of Transportation, will be conducting a mobility study to determine the best course of action moving forward.
One-Way to Two-Way Conversions
St. Petersburg has experienced the conversion of one-way streets to two-way streets in the past few decades. First Street, in downtown St. Pete, became two-way in the early 2000s despite opposition and the two-way section of MLK (9th Street) was extended south from 9th Ave N to 5th Ave N.
As part of the city’s Complete Streets Initiative, a study will be conducted this year to determine if converting the streets to two-way is the smart move. Proponents argue the streets will be safer and businesses will have more exposure with traffic traveling in both directions. Opponents counter by noting the efficiency and volume capabilities of one-way streets on our grid make St. Pete so easy to get around.
What do you think?
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