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A dozen streets will get a brake

Wofford Johnson lives on a quiet residential street in Sunset Park.

But come rush hour, Longfellow Avenue turns into an urban racetrack.

"We have a speeding problem," Johnson said. "We get lots of cut-through traffic from West Shore. It's a long straight road so they really fly through here."

Two years ago, Johnson and his neighbors asked the city to put speed tables on their street to slow down the cars. After extensive studies, a survey of the neighbors and a long wait, Longfellow Avenue will get the tables.

About a dozen other streets in Tampa also are slated for traffic-calming measures this year.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that nearly 200 streets with speeding problems are on a traffic-calming waiting list. That's up from about 150 streets on last year's waiting list, said Roy C. LaMotte Jr., the director of the city's transportation division.

The process for getting speed tables or other traffic-calming devices to a neighborhood starts when residents come to the city with concerns about their street.

That's followed by neighborhood meetings and studies of speeding violations. If 85 percent of cars travel 10 mph over the speed limit and 50 percent of the homeowners want traffic-calming devices, the street is added to the list.

The city considers the best short-term and long-term solutions for each street, LaMotte said. Options range from beefing up police enforcement of speed limits to installing speed tables or medians.

"There are traditional ways to solve the problem, and then we look for creative ways to do traffic calming," LaMotte said.

The city has to be selective about which streets get actual construction, even if the neighbors want it.

"We don't have infinite amounts of cash," LaMotte said. "We try to take the worst locations first and work through that list."

Speed tables cost about $5,000 each, and some streets are slated to get even costlier medians. The city budget includes $700,000 for neighborhood traffic control this fiscal year, he said.

So only 12 of the more than 200 streets with speeding problems will be fixed.

Not everyone likes speed tables.

Some people say they are hard on cars. Others say they slow down rescue vehicles. And still others say they simply push the problem to other nearby streets.

Maureen Uhlig, president of the Swann Estates Neighborhood Association, worries that speed tables slated for Beach Park on Swann Avenue between Lois Avenue and West Shore Boulevard will worsen the speeding problem on her own stretch of Swann.

That hasn't turned her against speed tables, though. She just wants the city to hurry up and put them on her street.

She has been waiting more than two years for speed tables between Lois Avenue and Dale Mabry Highway. A study in 2002 deemed the road a speeding hazard.

"We have nothing more than two lanes, one going one way and one going the other way," Uhlig said. "The people leaving Beach Park will be accelerating trying to make up the time."

She and her neighbors have taken to standing on the street each Friday and waving signs urging drivers to obey the 25 mph speed limit.

She says three years is too long to wait.

"I understand the city has other streets they're concerned about," Uhlig said. "But this is my neighborhood."

Bumpy roads ahead

These Tampa streets head a list of those slated for improvements to slow traffic:

Central Avenue, seven speed tables from Bougainvillea Avenue to Fowler Avenue.

Manhattan Avenue, seven speed tables from Boy Scout Boulevard to Cypress Street.

37th Street, six speed tables from Yukon Street to Greenwood Avenue.

Longfellow Avenue, five speed tables from Schiller Street to West Shore Boulevard.

Leona Street, six speed tables from Manhattan Avenue to Westshore Boulevard.

Elrod Avenue, eight speed tables from Dale Mabry Highway to Lois Avenue.

30th Street, five speed tables from Caracas Street to Wilder Avenue.

Swann Avenue, 15 speed tables from Lois Avenue to West Shore Boulevard.

Church Avenue, medians from Neptune Street to Bay to Bay Boulevard.

Bay to Bay Boulevard, medians from Lois Avenue to Manhattan Avenue.

Lois Avenue, medians from Cypress Street to Spruce Street.

Swann Avenue, intersection narrowing from Oregon Street to Rome Avenue.

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