TAMPA — Da dum … da dum … da dum — that's one last fanfare to the signature thumps of Tampa's most famous street — bumpy Bayshore Boulevard.
J.T. Tapias changed several flat tires along the road, courtesy of the uneven pavement. Eventually, he traded his sports car in for a Cadillac Escalade.
"It's horrible," said Tapias, who lives at 345 Bayshore Blvd. "We're glad they're fixing it."
The road has 63 faults in concrete slabs between the Davis Islands Bridge overpass and Rome Avenue. The bumps jostled drivers for at least 50 years, said Roger Cox, the county's pavement manager.
In mid July, road crews from the Hillsborough County Public Works Department started grinding down the high points. Working only on weekends, they expect to be finished this month.
"I think it rides good," Cox said.
Workers poured the concrete slabs about 80 years ago, he said. Although the street is in the city, the county maintains it.
Cox has been studying this section of road for about 18 months, first taking a core concrete sample.
A typical concrete road lasts about 50 years, but this is no ordinary one, he said. It's made of river rocks brought in from out of state, including granite and quartz. The rocks were mixed by a steam-operated machine along the bay and poured using wheelbarrows.
The freshly ground patches look like terrazzo due to the colorful stones embedded in concrete, Cox said. When he showed the sample to road contractors, they were intimidated by the stones in the concrete.
The slabs settled because there were no steel ties binding them together, he said. Over time, sand between the slabs was compressed by traffic and washed away.
Cox considered paving over the concrete, but asphalt sometimes peels, and the increased height could have caused a drainage problem.
As cars dropped from one slab to another —sometimes more than an inch — it had the effect of a hammer pounding the second section even more.
It's a problem that compounded as traffic grew to about 40,000 cars a day.
Jim Baker drives one of them.
Baker, an administrator for a downtown law firm, said the county could have put the money to better use.
The price tag for a smoother ride is $400,000, funded through the county's Roadway Resurfacing Fund.
Baker never saw the bumps as a problem in his daily drive.
They kept him alert and reminded him of the speed limit, he says.
Elisabeth Parker can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3431.