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Palma Ceia West

Residents want to put a stop to speeders

Neighbors say San Nicholas Street has become a haven for speeders, but city officials say there are worse roadways.

By RON MATUS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 21, 2003


Mel Zack is befuddled.

He and his neighbors don't want the city to move the Earth for them. Just a few stop signs.

They say the signs are on the wrong corners, where San Nicholas Street meets Grady Avenue and Clark Avenue. The result: San Nicholas, unlike parallel streets, is a 1,000-foot speedway.

"I've seen them doing 60, especially in the afternoon when they're shooting through to pick up their kids or going home," said Zack, who is president of the Palma Ceia West Neighborhood Association.

Residents have tried for years to get the signs transplanted from Grady and Clark to San Nicholas, but with no luck.

Another push likely won't budge the city, either.

In October 2001, city transportation officials did a speed study on San Nicholas. The speed limit is 25 mph; the average speed turned out to be 32 mph.

"They say it's not enough to worry about," Zack said. "We say, 'I'm sorry, but we live here.' "

It's a matter of priorities, city officials said.

The city keeps note of streets where the average speed is 10 mph or more over what is posted. Compared to other streets, San Nicholas doesn't have a problem, said city traffic engineer Debbie Harrington.

"But I can give you a six-page list of locations that do," she said.

Even if San Nicholas were on the list, the city couldn't deter speeders by moving stop signs, Harrington said. Federal rules prohibit that. Any solution would involve traffic-calming devices like speed tables, which are similar to speed bumps but longer and flatter on top.

Traffic concerns are a main reason Palma Ceia West formed last year.

Besides stop signs on San Nicholas, residents want speed tables on Watrous Avenue. They say that road is a cut-through for people heading west from Henderson Boulevard.

Zack isn't optimistic.

"You can't get speed tables unless you're rich or an ex-senator," he quipped, referring to speed tables on Sterling Avenue in Golfview, where former U.S. Rep. Sam Gibbons has an address.

Watrous from Church to Lois avenues is on the city list. But at least 100 streets are in front of it.

Residents plan to be persistent, if not patient.

They're writing another round of letters to the city and making more phone calls, Zack said. Last week, they solicited support from Tampa Homeowners, an Association of Neighborhoods.

"We've asked and asked and asked," Zack said, "and we're still asking."

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

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