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Teens find shortcut no longer available

The traffic sign appeared without warning. So did the tickets.

A "no-right-turn" sign erected Dec. 10 on Bloomingdale Avenue has shifted morning traffic patterns around Bloomingdale High School.

Between 7 and 7:45 a.m., drivers no longer are allowed to turn right into the Bloomingdale Oaks subdivision.

Police have been slapping $90 fines on those who try.

"Obey what the signs are," said Cpl. Mark Clark of the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office.

Students traveling east on Bloomingdale Avenue used to cut through the neighborhood to avoid a left-turn traffic signal into the school. For more than a year, residents complained about teens careening through the Valrico neighborhood each school day morning.

Some even petitioned the county for measures to slow the traffic.

"There's a lot of people out walking their dogs that time in the morning, so it probably wasn't safe to have that much traffic around," said Kristi Zemaitis, a FishHawk resident who drops her son at a day care in the neighborhood in the morning. "I think it's definitely better now that the sign's up."

But some neighboring communities would have appreciated a warning.

"Had I known, we could have tried to give people a heads up," said Deputy Pete Maurer, who fielded questions on the topic at a recent meeting at his Bloomingdale community station.