Friday, October 29, 2010

The Dr. Edward Cole Highway

If you have driven Interstate 175 in downtown St. Petersburg lately you may have noticed two yellow-on-brown signage in the median, one by the pedestrian overpass if you are headed east and one just before 6 St S if you are headed west. It turns out, when I recently watched a Bay News 9 story, that Interstate 175 was designated as the Dr. Edward Cole Highway.

Do you know who Dr. Edward Cole is?

First and foremost, Dr. Edward Cole was a prominent pediatrician here in St. Petersburg for many years. According to the Bay News 9 article, most people living here in St. Petersburg were cared for by Dr. Cole in their childhood. Back in the days when pediatric health care wasn’t that complicated, St. Petersburg area parents put their faith and confidence in Dr. Cole when their children got sick. In today’s world of health care, it’s hard to find a doctor that can understand your health issues.

Not only Dr. Edward Cole was a prominent St. Petersburg pediatrician, he also served on the St. Petersburg City Council as a Councilmember. Dr. Cole was instrumental in getting the City of St. Petersburg to donate the acreage of land in downtown St. Petersburg so that the University of South Florida (USF) can expand their St. Petersburg Campus to what it is today.

Besides, USF’s St. Petersburg Campus is easy to find. In fact, you see the welcoming monument the moment you come off of Interstate 175 at 4 St S to your right. As you transition from Interstate 175 to 5 Av S (which is a one way road going east; from 4 St S to 3 St S it’s a one block stretch of state highway known as FL 594 which connects into northbound FL 687 at 3 St S), you see more of the USF campus with the parking garage and a Barnes & Noble Bookstore that caters to USF St. Petersburg’s students. Directions to the USF St. Petersburg Campus are well signposted on 5 Av S as you come off of Interstate 175.

Back in the USF St. Petersburg Campus’ heydays, it was just a small campus consisting of a few buildings jutting out into Bayboro Harbor adjacent to the Albert Whitted Airport. Today the campus has grown by leaps and bounds and is an important part of downtown St. Petersburg.

All of this USF St. Petersburg expansion would not have been possible without the vision and encouragement of St. Petersburg’s most prominent pediatrician and city council member. After all, Dr. Cole had a knack of spending money on something that was truly needed – in other words, if you don’t need it don’t spend your money on it.

Now Interstate 175 will bear Dr. Edward Cole’s name as the highway that leads from Interstate 275 to downtown St. Petersburg including Bayfront Medical Center, the new All Children’s Hospital and – what Dr. Cole championed for as a St. Petersburg City Council member – an expanded USF St. Petersburg Campus.

From all of us Interstate 175 users out there that use the highway for commuting to work in downtown St. Petersburg, taking classes at USF St. Petersburg, seeing our primary care doctors based out of Bayfront or All Children’s, or whatever: Thank you Dr. Cole!