This study was prepared by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to reevaluate the findings of a previously prepared Environmental Assessment/Finding of No Significant Impact (EA/FONSI) which was approved by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in 1983 for SR 682 (Pinellas Bayway) from the West Toll Booth to 41st Street South, a distance of 4.7 kilometers (km) [2.9 miles (mi)] in Pinellas County, Florida. The improvements recommended in the EA/FONSI were to multi-lane SR 682 within the project limits. The recommended improvements have been completed between SR 679 and 41st Street South. This reevaluation considers improvements to SR 682 from the West Toll Booth to west of SR 679 including an existing drawbridge (Structure “C”) which spans the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway (GCIW). The EA/FONSI recommended that a four lane divided roadway be constructed. Additionally, it was recommended that when the design plans for the second stage are to begin, the bridge type (high level fixed span or low level drawbridge) at the GCIW should be analyzed to determine which type of structure best serves the transportation needs of the area.
Six Build Alternatives were developed and analyzed in the last reevaluation which was started in 1992. The Build Alternatives included two low level drawbridges, two mid level drawbridges, and two high level fixed bridges. The low, mid, and high level configurations considered alternatives north and south of the existing structure. Folio wing analysis and evaluation of social, economic, and environmental concerns, the high level fixed bridge alternative on the south alignment was recommended in the reevaluation which was approved by the USCG in 1994. After USCG approval of the reevaluation, the FOOT committed to conducting additional public involvement prior to designing the project. This additional public involvement phase began in 1997. Alternatives presented during this public involvement phase were the low level drawbridge and the high level fixed bridge alternatives located to the south side of the existing bridge.
Study Purpose and Need
The purpose of this report was to document the engineering decisions and the design criteria used in the development of proposed improvements to SR 682 (Pinellas Bayway) from the West Toll Booth to west of SR 679. This report contained information regarding the identification and evaluation of potential corridors, the development of typical sections, and the evaluation of alignment alternatives developed to provide improvements adequate to the 2020 design year. Also included is the economic evaluation of the alternatives considered and the selection of a Recommended Alternative.
A traffic study was completed to determine the Level of Service (LOS) to be provided at the signalized intersection of SR 682 with SR 679 and along the highway links under review. The level of service review standard for state roads in this portion of Pinellas County is LOS D.
The highway link on SR 682 from the West Toll Booth to SR 679 currently operates at LOS Fin the peak direction in the AM and PM peak hours. Improvement of this roadway segment to a four lane divided facility would provide a highway link operation of LOS B for the high-level fixed bridge alternative and LOS C for the low-level drawbridge through the 2020 design year. SR 682 from SR 679 to the East Toll Booth was found to operate at an acceptable LOS through the 2020 design year. In order to achieve LOS D or better operation on SR 682 through the 2020 design year, it will be necessary to widen SR 682 from the West Toll Booth to west of SR 679 to a four lane divided facility.
The Technical Memorandum: Project Traffic Report (dated October, 1992) and Traffic Report Supplement (dated October 1999) prepared for this study provide additional detailed information regarding the methodology used in developing the traffic projections.
Evacuation Routes and Emergency Services
According to the 1992 Tampa Bay Region Hurricane Evacuation Study prepared by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) for the Florida Department of Community Affairs, Division of Emergency Management, SR 682 is a designated evacuation route for Pinellas County. SR 682 is one of six evacuation corridors identified within Pinellas County. Pinellas County has been divided into 136 evacuation zones. The evacuation zones were delineated based on common levels of overland storm surge, clusters of traffic analysis zones that have a common roadway access to nonvulnerable areas, and familiar physical features (roadways) as boundaries for an understandable public information program. Residents within the project study area are located within Zone I (Evacuation Level A).
The 1992 Tampa Bay Region Hurricane Evacuation Study utilized five categories to classify hurricanes [Category I (least) to Category 5 (worst)] and one tropical storm. Zones were analyzed to identify a plan of action regarding the order in which they should be evacuated based upon the category of the hurricane or tropical storm. Residents located within Zone 1 (Evacuation Level A) are the first to be evacuated for all categories and tropical storms.
The existing drawbridge could restrict the flow of evacuees for a number of reasons. Only one lane would be available for evacuees. The remaining lane would be used for emergency vehicles. In addition, the existing bridge does not have adequate shoulders to accommodate disabled vehicles. Therefore, additional capacity is needed to increase traffic flow during an evacuation.
Accident data was obtained from FDOT District 7 and was summarized for a five year period from 1993 to 1997. Accidents were grouped according to roadway segments and for major at-grade intersections along the project. By far, the greatest number of accidents occurring within the project study area was at the intersection of SR 682 and SR 679 with an average of 10.4 accidents and 17.6 injuries per year. Sixty-nine percent of these accidents involved collisions with drivers turning left on to SR679.
The existing drawbridge over the GCIW was the location of 6.6 accidents and 6.8 injuries per year, of which 85% were rear end collisions. The opening of the drawbridge and intermittent traffic stops is the most likely cause of these accidents. Most of the remaining accidents were vehicles hitting fixed objects such as the bridge structure, signs, and utility poles.
Consistency with Transportation Plan
The Comprehensive Plans for Pinellas County, the City of St. Petersburg, and the City of St. Pete Beach all indicate SR 682 within the project limits as a four lane divided roadway for the design year 2020. Therefore, the proposed improvements are consistent with area Comprehensive Plans.
SR 682 west of the West Toll Booth is a four lane divided highway. From west of SR 679 to the East Toll Booth, the roadway is a four lane divided highway and expands to six lanes east of the toll booth. Widening the roadway and bridge to provide a four lane divided facility will eliminate the bottleneck caused by the existing two lane segment.
Based on the public involvement efforts started in 1997, Alternative 5 has been confirmed as the Recommended Alternative. The recommended improvements for Alternative 5 include the construction of a four-lane high-level fixed bridge with 19.8 meter (m) [65 feet (ft)] of vertical clearance. Widening the bridge approaches to a four lane divided roadway from the West Toll Booth to west of SR 679 is also to be undertaken.