Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For drivers in Temple Terrace, there's no going back

There are 31 no-U-turn signs along a 1 ½-mile stretch of 56th Street, from Riverhills Drive to Whiteway Drive, in Temple Terrace. The street is the city’s main north-south road.


There are 31 no-U-turn signs along a 1 ½-mile stretch of 56th Street, from Riverhills Drive to Whiteway Drive, in Temple Terrace. The street is the city’s main north-south road.

TEMPLE TERRACE — Drivers might think of Temple Terrace as the city of red-light cameras.

It was the first community in Hillsborough County to install the traffic devices. But before the city made motorists stop and think before turning right on red, there was the U-turn issue.

Making a U-turn on 56th Street, the main road into the city, is tricky. Every block or so has signs prohibiting U-turns, and it's every half a block in some places. The 1 1/2-mile stretch from Riverhills Drive to Whiteway Drive has 31 of them.

For some, a new level of aggravation over the lack of U-turns came when a new post office opened.

Longtime residents know the back roads and best places to circle around, but newcomers might be bewildered if they feel the urge to turn back.

"If you don't live here, it can get pretty confusing, very confusing," said Kenneth Harsell, 70, a retired electrical engineer who moved to Temple Terrace four years ago and had trouble adjusting. "You can rack up a lot of wasted mileage, so to speak, until you know where you're going."

The city asked the state Department of Transportation to install the signs 30 years ago. The four-lane highway has 12-foot lanes and medians ranging from 4 to 16 feet — wide enough for vehicles to pass safely but too narrow for U-turns, said Kevin Dunn, a sign engineer at the DOT's Tampa office. Engineers prefer medians that are 28 feet wide.

Drivers on 56th Street can end up traveling a mile out of the way before finding a safe spot to turn around. North of Whiteway Drive, the street broadens to allow U-turns, and U-turns aren't a problem south of the Hillsborough River in Tampa. But between those points, it can be frustrating.

Just ask Mike Hinchee, who has lived here 53 years.

"It's ridiculous. I mean, how many signs can you put up on one road?" said Hinchee, 58. "It's easy for someone like me. I know where I need to go to get turned around. But for someone who doesn't live around here, I imagine it's a real pain in the neck."

Even with signs in place, police say frustrated motorists still try the maneuver. The fine in Temple Terrace for illegal U-turns is $153. The city handed out $5,814 in U-turn violations during the past budget year, most stemming from 56th Street, city spokesman Mike Dunn said.

Meanwhile, motorists like Sarah Canon, 25, who moved from Crown Point, Ind., two years ago, just shake their heads and push on until they find a place to turn around.

A note to newcomers: Circling the block isn't always an option. "There's a lot of streets that don't go through, and you'll think it might connect to what you're looking for, and then it doesn't," Canon said.

Lois Camero, 61, said she loves Temple Terrace but concedes that driving in the city requires some patience.

The parking situation at the new post office, which opened in May on Chicago Avenue near the intersection of Springdale Place, is the latest challenge, she said.

Drivers pull directly into spaces off Chicago Avenue because the post office has street parking but no parking lot. Motorists heading to the Sweetbay plaza have to stop as other drivers leaving the post office back directly onto the street.

"Why they put the post office there, I have no clue," Camero said.

But what confounds Katherine Johnson, 20, most is the sheer number of traffic issues — from circuitous neighborhood streets with speed humps to red-light cameras and no-U-turn signs to the strict enforcement of traffic laws.

It can give drivers, especially those unfamiliar with Temple Terrace, a headache.

"Welcome to Temple Terrace," Johnson said. "Now be careful because they'll catch you."

For drivers in Temple Terrace, there's no going back 01/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.