Smoother road fuels an urge to speed

Published July 20, 2007

Motorists are already enjoying the drive along newly repaved and expanded Manhattan Avenue.

Yes, the Tampa Police Department says, drivers like the $9.3-million expansion - too much, in fact.

Officer James Ng Tang says he pulled one woman over, driving 50 mph in the 35 mph zone.

"I didn't notice," he said she told him. "It's four lanes now."

No, that excuse did not get her out of a ticket.

In recent weeks, police have caught a number of speeders cruising along the smoother street as the project neared completion. Still, neighbors say the road-widening helps the Bayside West neighborhood, alleviating congestion and making the area more accessible to pedestrians.

Mayor Pam Iorio gathered with city engineers and project managers last week to officially open the revamped roadway.

She praised the work of the contractors - R. E. Purcell Construction finished the project three weeks ahead of schedule - and highlighted the new sidewalks, which she said would help senior citizens and children travel more safely along the street. But she also had a word of warning for Tampa citizens.

"I understand we already have a slight speeding problem," she said. "So I'll have to get the TPD on it."

The project, from Gandy Boulevard to Euclid Avenue, was one of the largest roadway projects recently in Tampa, said Roy LaMotte Jr., transportation manager with the city's Department of Public Works.

The department needed to keep the businesses along Manhattan Avenue accessible to pedestrians, so the city put out signs for each store indicating that it was open for business.

The road had been just two lanes, and the Bayside West neighborhood, whose eastern boundary is Manhattan Avenue, lobbied the city for years to get the roadway expanded, said Jerry Frankhouser, the neighborhood association president.

"We had been promised and promised," he said. "It's very nice, and we waited a long time for it."

The only problem during construction had been that trucks carrying dirt to the site would sometimes take shortcuts through neighborhood streets, Frankhouser said. But he contacted the city, which responded quickly and kept drivers to their authorized routes along major roadways, he said.

As for the speeding, Frankhouser says he's neither worried nor surprised.

"It's nice and smooth. It's human nature, I guess, that they're going to speed," he said.

Sarah Mishkin can be reached at or (813) 225 3110.

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