BELLEAIR — For years, the issue of traffic volume on Indian Rocks Road has been an issue.
Commissioners debated often over ways to eliminate the daily trek through their town by vehicles taking a shortcut from Clearwater to the beach.
The problem is that it is quicker to take Belleview Boulevard to Indian Rocks Road from Fort Harrison Avenue rather than driving straight through to West Bay Drive and going west from there.
Mayor Gary Katica is a longtime opponent of the traffic because most of the cars are being driven by people who are not residents of Belleair. In fact, Katica led the effort to construct a roundabout on Indian Rocks Road near the town hall. It was hoped the roundabout would discourage drivers from using the route. Three years later it doesn’t seem to have done the job. Residents are continuing to complain about the traffic volume and say the roundabout is causing other issues of safety, not helping the situation.
At their meeting March 5 commissioners heard from yet another resident complaining about the situation.
Rodney Vincent, a resident of Indian Rocks Road, had several complaints, and he wasn’t shy about expressing them.
“The traffic is getting worse every day,” he said. “It is ridiculous. We need more pedestrian crossings, and more roundabouts, perhaps mini-roundabouts.”
Vincent said he recently saw a 40-foot semi-truck operated by UPS coming across Indian Rocks Road.
“I have been keeping track of things,” he said. “I’m wondering about the bridge and if it can handle large trucks. I wonder about the weight limit.”
Vincent ended his comments with this: “Indian Rocks Road is beginning to become a mini-I-4 now.”
Resident Lil Cromer, while agreeing that the traffic was a nuisance, noted that there isn’t much the town can do to stop it.
“You can’t prevent people from driving on that road,” she said.
Cromer also had something to say to Vincent, wondering if he was overstepping his bounds.
“You had to know about the traffic on Indian Rocks Road when you bought there,” she said. “One street over, and you don’t have any traffic problems at all.”
Those comments got the attention of the commissioners who wondered what could be done about the traffic situation on the road.
Deputy Mayor Karla Rettstatt, sitting in for the absent Katica, asked Town Manager J.P. Murphy to check into the latest technology regarding crosswalks.
Police Chief Rick Doyle addressed the issue of large trucks on Indian Rocks Road. He said there was a weight limit and his officers were closely monitoring the situation.
“We made over 60 stops in January,” he said. “We will continue to focus on the truck issue and we are training our officers on truck enforcement, for trucks over 10,000 pounds.”
Murphy said he would consult with the town’s engineers to see what other measures could be taken. He noted that measures such as crosswalks will only get approval if the traffic load warrants it.
Murphy said he would look into doing another traffic study on Indian Rocks Road and would report back on how much it would cost. He noted that traffic can now be counted by the number of “pings” the Bluetooth devices send out. He said most vehicles these days are equipped with that technology even if the driver doesn’t have a cell phone.
Murphy will report back to the commission at an upcoming meeting.
In other matters:
• Doyle warned residents about a scam that has been observed. He said it involved scammers calling residents and asking for sensitive information.
“They call and want the residents to give them their date of birth and their Social Security number,” he said. “As a result many residents are shaken up and scared.”
“If you do get such a call do not talk to them, hang up and call the Police Department,” Doyle said.
• The issue of pavers came up as commissioners discussed the ongoing infrastructure improvements in the town.
Up until now the town has replaced paving stones that have been disturbed by the ongoing street construction. That is now going to change.
From now on pavers that form the apron of a driveway, that portion on the street side of the sidewalk, will not be replaced by the town. The resident will be given a choice. The town can replace the pavers with pavement, or give the resident a credit for the cost of that pavement which can be used to supplement the cost of putting in new pavers if the resident desired. The town would no longer be involved.
Town officials also noted that no longer would pavers be allowed to replace the sidewalk in front of a residence. The sidewalk would have to run through with pavers on either side.