Pinellas citizens, prepare for a new phenomenon if Greenlight Pinellas passes in November: a large number of routine rail on car crashes. But don’t ask PSTA to inform voters with their $800,000 taxpayer funded “education campaign” about this risk or the history of rail/car crashes in Houston beginning in 2004. Houston installed a rail system that will be very similar to important parts of the Greenlight plan. Namely, “modern streetcars” or light rail “trains” will be running right down the middle of the road alongside cars in many parts of the train line. Affected will be Eastbay and West Bay Drives in Largo, Court Street, Myrtle Street and Roosevelt Blvd in Clearwater, and Haines Road and 62nd Ave N. in St. Pete as well as 1st Avenues N. and S.. The plan will place cars about 6 feet away from the trains travelling down East Bay/West Bay route which will also be crossing multiple intersections. The Houston experience serves as a warning of what to expect as rail/car crashes come to Pinellas: avoidable injuries, taxpayer funded personal injury lawsuit payouts, more traffic congestion and more hassle.
After Houston opened its train service along an eight mile stretch (exclusively in the downtown area), there were dozens of rail on car crashes. in the first two years of operation, there was a crash nearly every twelve days! In early 2009 the 245th collision occurred since opening in 2004 and set an annual record for rail/car crashes at 69! Cars would turn in front of trains. Even Busses have run red lights directly into trains. In 2008, the city had to alter the timing of traffic signals to favor the train, further slowing cars and increasing congestion. The Sun Beam Times will be offering detailed analysis on the street level changes Pinellas citizens can expect if the 24 mile, St. Pete to Clearwater, $2.6 billion train project is approved in November. For those who can’t wait, here is the report from PSTA showing the planned train routes. This blog remains convinced that citizens should reject the 14% sales tax rate hike and ask PSTA to do a better job with their current budget to run a better bus system. Below is a preview of some of the changes to expect along East Bay/West Bay Drive with Greenlight Pinellas. Meet the endless construction project, slower traffic harrowing drives next to trains and intersections always in danger of a train showing up.