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Speed tables scoped out

The longer, flatter versions of speed bumps have moved into Golfview. Sensors will determine if they work.

By RON MATUS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 9, 2002


Some people love speed tables. Some think they're a waste of good brake pads.

Soon, the city of Tampa will have numbers to show whether they really work.

Last week, city workers stretched rubber-encased sensors across Himes Avenue, Sterling Avenue and Frankland Road to measure how many cars came and went -- and, especially, how fast they were going.

In response to rampant speeding, all three roads were fitted in the spring with speed tables, which are like speed bumps but longer and flatter on top.

"We need to learn from what we're doing," said William Porth, the city's neighborhood traffic coordinator.

In Tampa's experiment with speed tables, Golfview has been among the first guinea pigs. Reactions are mixed.

"It doesn't bother me," said Missy Steadman, city liaison for the Golfview Civic & Garden Association. She said just as many people use the roads, but now they go slower.

In the past year, the devices also were added to Pearl Avenue south of Gandy Boulevard and Kirby Street between Sligh and Waters avenues.

Like Himes and Sterling, those streets are popular with motorists seeking to beat traffic on main roads.

"People are not cutting down our street to avoid Gandy any more," said David Gutcher, president of the Gandy Civic Association and a Pearl Avenue resident. The speed tables have "been wonderful."

The only downside: Motorcycle police no longer cloak themselves in the tall bushes in Gutcher's front yard, giving him extra security.

Still, some residents have insisted the tables don't work.

To measure whether they do, sensors were placed on Pearl last month and will be put on Kirby in coming weeks. They will be kept in place for about a week.

Porth said he doesn't know when he can analyze the data. But he hopes to compare the recent measurements with data gathered before the speed tables were put in place.

Other roads in South Tampa, including Estrella Street and Mississippi Avenue in Palma Ceia, are candidates for speed tables.

"We don't want to become a speed table factory," Porth said.

But if they prove effective, he said, the city will continue to use them.

-- Ron Matus can be reached at 226-3405 or matus@sptimes.com.

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