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New name for Nebraska Avenue? Tampa council thinks about it

Published Jun. 21, 2013

TAMPA — A new name for Nebraska Avenue?

Yes, says City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin.

Her colleagues are less enthusiastic but took a small step Thursday to explore the idea.

Nebraska, which goes through some of Tampa's grittier inner-city neighborhoods, does not have an image Capin would put "on our tourism brochures."

"If I had a business on Nebraska Avenue, I would prefer anything but Nebraska Avenue," she said.

Instead, she wants to rename the road after the first governor of Spanish colonial Florida: Pedro Menéndez de Avilés.

"This would be a way of honoring our past," she said, noting that no other state can claim the kind of 500-year history that Florida has, and naming the street is cheaper than building a Hispanic history museum. "And it's a very Florida name."

Officials say it could cost the city up to $75,000 to make the change and swap out hundreds of road signs.

That doesn't include private property owners' costs to change stationery, business forms, websites and signs. Some, like the Nebraska Food Market, took the road's name as their own. Others have their street address painted on walls, printed on awnings or stamped onto existing signs.

Nor does it include the potential cost of making the change on the 4 miles of Nebraska that is in unincorporated Hillsborough County. That's a cost the city could have to pay if it asks for the change.

Council members voted 4-2, with Charlie Miranda and Lisa Montelione in dissent and Mary Mulhern not present, to ask for a more detailed report on the potential costs on July 18.

Camera intersections to get longer yellows

Also Thursday, council members were told that yellow caution signals at Tampa's 17 red-light camera intersections will soon get a little longer.

That's because the Florida Department of Transportation wants cities to add four-tenths of a second to yellow lights.

The reason? To add a smidgen more reaction time for an aging driving population.

Intersections monitored by red-light cameras must get the adjustment by Dec. 31.

The rest of Tampa's traffic signals must be similarly adjusted by mid 2015.

Since the lights were installed in 2011, skeptics have questioned whether yellow caution lights have been shortened to allow police to cite more drivers.

"We're absolutely not doing that," city transportation manager Jean Duncan said.

City technicians do make occasional adjustments, including on some intersections monitored by red-light cameras, to make sure they comply with standards set by the Florida DOT.

"In all the cases where we have made adjustments, all of those yellow times have increased," Duncan said. "None of them have decreased."

The city added up to 1.3 seconds to the yellow at the monitored intersections.

Police have issued 101,475 citations since November 2011. That represents about 35 percent of all potential violations photographed by red-light cameras.

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"You really have to break the law in order to get one of those red-light tickets," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said, "but it really has been an effective tool and I think it's changing behavior."


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