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Bumps in road now flat -- and popular

Drivers appear to be avoiding streets with speed tables, which are longer and flatter on top than speed bumps.

By RON MATUS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 29, 2002


Complain all you want about speed tables. They're not going away.

Not only do neighborhoods love them, but a new city study concludes they're working better than expected.

The study found motorists are driving 7 to 15 mph slower on Tampa streets with speed tables, which are like speed bumps but longer and flatter on top. And many drivers are now avoiding those streets, which is what residents hoped.

"I wanted to make sure this is working, and it is," said William Porth, who led the study as the city's neighborhood traffic coordinator.

Last summer, city officials counted cars and clocked speeds in three neighborhoods with speed tables, including Gandy and Golfview in South Tampa, then compared results with historical data.

On Pearl Avenue, between Dale Mabry Highway and Manhattan Avenue, they found motorists on average drove 12 mph slower with speed tables. On Himes Avenue, between Swann Avenue and Neptune Street, the dropoff was 15 mph.

By comparison, studies done in other cities found dips of 5 to 7 mph, Porth said.

Pearl and Himes are magnets for cars trying to avoid rush hour traffic on main roads. Some residents call Pearl "Little Gandy."

But the study found 1,700 fewer cars a week used Pearl after the speed tables were installed -- a decrease of more than 50 percent.

Other streets showed declines of 34 to 61 percent.

Porth can't say for sure where those cars are going but suspects that in Gandy and Golfview, motorists are sticking to the main streets.

On average, each speed table cost $3,300: that includes new signs and road striping. Pearl has 16 of them.

Several neighborhoods want more.

Sue Lyon, president of Tampa Homeowners, An Association of Neighborhoods, pointed to a national study released last week that showed Tampa Bay was the second worst in the country in pedestrian safety. Speed tables and other traffic-calming measures can help change that, she said.

Because of speed tables, "I particularly avoid that Himes area. ... I use Dale Mabry," she said. "I think a lot of people are doing that."

More speed tables might be coming to the Gandy area.

Iowa Avenue, west of Dale Mabry, is the worst residential street in Tampa for speeders, Porth said. Officials hope to meet with residents by early next year to discuss options, including speed tables.

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

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