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Extra lanes, more tickets

By BILL COATS
Published May 18, 2007


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The newly widened Cross Creek Boulevard didn't just make it easier for drivers to travel the road. It made it easier for police to nail them for speeding.

In the month since road crews opened the two extra lanes on April 13, police officers issued 88 speeding tickets on the four-lane stretch of Cross Creek. In the month prior to that, they had given out only 35.

"We are monitoring the speed more aggressively, mainly in the school zones, " said Tampa police Sgt. David Puig, who supervises one of the New Tampa shifts.

Puig said the new, higher numbers don't include many more drivers to whom police issued warnings or lesser citations, such as driving without proof of insurance.

"We have access to their driving records, " he said.

"If they're clean, then we don't hit them with a full speeding citation."

Puig said the accelerated ticket-writing was triggered partly by the freedom of movement the four-lane road provided to patrol officers.

When Cross Creek was only two lanes, officers often would see speeders they couldn't catch because other vehicles separated the speeder and officer on the two-lane road.

Now, the extra lane lets police maneuver past slower traffic to reach the speeder, Puig said.

And the boulevard's new medians are a fresh location where officers can park and aim their radar guns, he said.

But half of the speeding tickets - before and after the new lanes opened up - were dispensed at Cross Creek and Green Pine Lane, the nearly hidden driveway of a Tampa Fire Station.

A week ago, city crews raised Cross Creek's speed limit to 45 mph from the prior 35 mph.

Puig said the higher limit probably wouldn't have helped most of the speeders during the past month.

"They were at least six miles per hour over the limit, " he said. "More often than not, it's at least 10."

In fact, Puig expects the number of citations to increase again, despite the looser speed limit.

"I imagine it'll be going up, " he said. "If you've got 45 posted, they're going to do 50-plus."

Bill Coats can be reached at 813 269-5309 or coats@sptimes.com.

[Last modified May 17, 2007, 07:27:54]


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