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Signs read 'Signals set for 30 mph’ in downtown Tampa. But it doesn’t feel like it.

A reader questions Dr. Delay about whether the signs are accurate after getting stopped at almost every light.
Speed limit signs set for 30 miles per hour are posted along Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. [BOYZELL HOSEY | BOYZELL HOSEY | Times]

TAMPA — We’ve all done it — speed to beat a red light. And if you claim you haven’t, I find that hard to believe.

The Florida Department of Transportation is aware of this.

So to reinforce the speed limit in a number of places downtown, the agency started a pilot program in January 2019 to cut down delays and sync the traffic lights on one-way roads to the posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour. Officials want drivers to know that they can still make the green light by driving the speed limit.

The signs are on Kennedy Boulevard and along Nebraska Avenue and Jackson Street. The pilot study also was conducted in St. Pete on U.S. 92 at Third and Fourth streets, officials said.

Speed limit signs set for 30 miles per hour are posted along Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa. [BOYZELL HOSEY | BOYZELL HOSEY | Times]

But Tampa driver Robert Obara said he’s never been able to get up to 30 mph to even see if it works.

“When coming home from Lightning games, we take Kennedy Boulevard west from Meridian to Ashley (where we pick up 275), and we usually end up stopping for every light,” he said. “It’s frustrating.”

Well, let the Doc ease your pain.

The reason it may seem inaccurate after a Lightning game is that it’s one of the prime times of traffic congestion downtown.

Brandon Campbell, Tampa’s Smart Mobility manager, said that Lightning-related traffic isn’t the only exception. Any events at Amalie Arena throw off the synchronization, he said.

“In the time period after an arena event gets out, we are timing to heavily favor northbound traffic to get away from the arena and toward the interstate and the expressway entrance ramps,” Campbell said. “From Ashley, Morgan and Meridian, we are timing primarily for that. And the east-west coordination is less critical during those times because the demand dictates that northbound traffic is heavily favored. Other times of the day, we get a little better coordination east and west on Kennedy and Jackson, as those are two of the primary routes through the middle of downtown.”

Those signs apply under normal traffic conditions, according to Campbell.

And in normal conditions, the lights are scheduled every day based on the time of day and the day of the week.

During high traffic times, Campbell said, the traffic management center is staffed to ease the heavy flow of traffic and to avoid having those “imbalances” in place longer than necessary.

Typically, that’s no longer than an hour, Campbell said.

So, if there’s an event at Amalie Arena — Lightning games, concerts, etc.— there will be more green lights heading northbound. So expect additional red lights for eastbound and westbound traffic.

But the coronavirus cancellations of the Lightning season, March Madness, Wrestlemania in Tampa, and just about everything else, has reduced traffic overall. For the past week, the city of Tampa has had 15 to 30 percent less traffic, according to Campbell.

“We’ve definitely seen a reduction in demand,” he said, "and I would anticipate similar results for the rest of the week.”

Traffic and road closure updates:

Hernando County:

  • Lane closures with flagging operations from Suncoast Parkway to U.S. 41 for County Road 579 (Ayers Road extension) new roadway and widening through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Intermittent lane closures for State Road 50 (Cortez Boulevard) widening from Windmere Road/Bronson Boulevard to U.S. 301 through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hillsborough County:

  • Interstate 275 operational improvements from west of State Road 60 (Exit 39) to Lois Avenue (Exit 40B) cause lane closures through Friday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Expect eastbound lane closures for Interstate 4 resurfacing from 50th Street (Exit 3) to east of McIntosh Road (Exit 14) Eastbound lane closures through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. and westbound lane closures Tuesday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
  • Interstate 75 repaving from Manatee County Line to County Road 672 (Big Bend Road) causes nightly lane closures through Friday, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • I-75 northbound rest area reconstruction at mile marker 238. Rest area is closed until spring 2021
  • U.S. 41 bridge painting over CSX railroad tracks between College Avenue and 12th Avenue causes lane closures through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • U.S. 92 (Hillsborough Ave) repaving and drainage improvements from Central Avenue to 56th Street cause nightly lane closures through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
  • Lane closures at SR 60 under I-275 through Friday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • SR 60 (Kennedy Boulevard) traffic signal upgrades at Armenia Avenue and Brevard Avenue cause nightly lane closures through Friday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Expect eastbound lane closures on SR 60 (Adamo Drive) from I-75 to Grand Regency Boulevard through Saturday from 8 p.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Westbound lane closures on SR 60 (Adamo Drive) from Grand Regency Boulevard to Falkenburg Road through Friday from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Lane closures (westbound only) for SR 674 (Sun City Center Boulevard) roadway improvements from Cypress Village Boulevard to U.S. 301 through Friday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Lane closures with flagging operations for CR 580 (Sam Allen Road) widening from east of Paul Buchman Highway (SR 39A) to Wilder Road through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Lane closures on CR 587 (West Shore Boulevard) at I-275 through Friday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Pasco County:

  • I-75 at State Road 56 exit ramp (Exit 275) southbound single-lane closure Monday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • State Road 52 new traffic signal installation at the entrance to St. Leo University causes nightly lane closures through Thursday from 7 pm. to 6 a.m.
  • Intermittent nightly lane closures for State Road 54 widening from Curley Road to Morris Bridge Road through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
  • SR 54 repaving from Old Millpond Drive to Little Road causes lane closures through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pinellas County:

  • Lane closures/flagging operations for SR 52 widening and new alignment between Uradco Place and Fort King Road
  • Clinton Avenue clearing operations from Prospect Road (CR 579A) to Smith Road through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • SR 693 (South Pasadena Avenue) bridge repairs over Boca Ciega Bay cause lane closures through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • SR 688, SR 586 and SR 580 intersection lighting improvements cause intermittent lane closures through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at various locations:
    • SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) between Hamlin Boulevard in Largo and Feather Sound Drive in St. Petersburg
    • SR 586 (Curlew Road) between Alt. 19/Bayshore in Dunedin and Tampa Road in Oldsmar

Gateway Expressway (new tolled roadway system) updates:

  • Lane closures through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on I-275 from south of Gandy Boulevard (Exit 28) to Fourth Street N (Exit 32), I-275 northbound Exit 30 ramp to westbound State Road 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) and westbound 118th Avenue (County Road 296)
  • Lane closures through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on U.S. 19 frontage roads from 110th Avenue N to 126th Avenue N, on the SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) entrance ramp to the Bayside Bridge, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) to 49th Street N, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from 28th Street N to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N, and CR 611 / 49th Street from 145th Avenue to Bayside Bridge
  • Lane closures through Saturday on 118th Avenue North from U.S. 19 to 34th Street North from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Lane closures/traffic stops/temporary stops through Saturday on SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) from 34th Street to 49th Street N from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Intermittent lane closures, expect delays through Friday on Belleair Road from South Fort Harrison to Belcher Road for paving prep, sidewalk and drainage improvements

Monique Welch is a staff writer at the Tampa Bay Times, and the voice behind Dr. Delay. Send your traffic concerns, questions and pictures of roadway troubles you spot in your travels around the Tampa Bay area to docdelay@tampabay.com. Follow @AskDrDelay.

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