It has been rumored that there was a time when Gulf Boulevard was not under construction. People have also been said to have seen Elvis at the 7-Eleven and little green men from Mars. So, I guess anything is possible. But on St. Pete Beach, road construction is a way of life.
We suffered through four long years of Pass-a-Grille Way road work. Then the city attacked Gulf Winds and Blind Pass roads. Now the state of Florida is doing Lord-knows-what under Gulf Boulevard. A job that will take years to complete, at which time I’m sure another road project will begin.
But it’s not just here in St. Pete Beach. I hear ya, Madeira. I feel your pain, Indian Shores. You, too, Redingtons. In fact, is there any place on the barrier islands of Pinellas County where the major north-south road (usually called Gulf Boulevard) is NOT under construction?
And of course, for most of us, there is simply not another reasonable way to get around, so we sit in long lines next to orange cones watching, usually, nobody working.
So the question is why. Why so much road construction so often? Neglect is often cited. Infrastructure problems were ignored for years or just patched over. Eventually we were going to have to pay the piper. So now the piper has his hand out. New building construction is another reason. Every time you see another condo, hotel, or tourist attraction being erected, realize that it will require more sewage and water pipes that will need to go directly under (you guessed it) Gulf Boulevard. And one more piece to the puzzle, dollars. Right now, the federal government is handing out cash to the states like Santa Claus at Christmas. Apparently much of the Florida money is going into “improving” Gulf Boulevard.
And while I’m at it, one more issue about driving on Gulf, or, frankly, any road in Florida. Apparently Florida drivers are allergic to turn signals. For you natives, that’s that little lever on the left side of your steering wheel that causes lights to blink, giving other drivers a clue as to what you intend to do with your automobile. When a friend of mine moved here from New York, he instructed his wife Nancy to just break the signal indicator off because, he ranted, “Nobody in Florida ever uses their turn signals!” Unfortunately, I have noticed the same thing. And this makes driving Gulf Boulevard even more hazardous, because we are constantly having to change lanes to avoid the aforementioned road construction.
So, what have we learned here? Number one, the road construction on Gulf Boulevard, no matter which jurisdiction you live in, will never end. At least during our lifetimes. As soon as they finish one project, they will start another. Whether this is being done for nefarious reasons or simply to torture us, I will leave for you to decide. And number two, driving in Florida is a daunting proposition. Between lost tourists looking at their baffling GPS systems instead of the road and the fact that cars sold in Florida apparently come without turn signals, the concept of a peaceful cruise along the beach is based on a wish, not on reality. Oh, good, here comes another construction crew now …