1. Transportation

Ybor City finally gets some relief from heavy truck traffic

Ybor City businesses welcome the forthcoming ban on all but local truck traffic along the rebuilt, one-way arteries of 21st and 22nd streets.
Ybor City businesses welcome the forthcoming ban on all but local truck traffic along the rebuilt, one-way arteries of 21st and 22nd streets.
Published Dec. 2, 2016

TAMPA — For 50 years, the rumble and roar of heavy trucks on 21st and 22nd streets was part of the fabric of life in Ybor City, but that's changing.

Richard Gonzmart, 63, remembers being 12 and hearing his father talk about the 18-wheelers that thundered by on both sides of the family's Columbia Restaurant.

"It was damaging the structure of our building," he said.

Up to 6,000 trucks a day used the pair of roads. Tankers leaving the port fully loaded with fuel and heading north on 22nd Street would shake buildings to their foundations, dent the asphalt and cause parts of the road to collapse.

"It was pretty bad all the time, especially in the evening when you were trying to sleep," said Tony LaColla, who has lived near 22nd Street for more than a decade. "The trucks going over the railroad tracks would be like bombs going off."

A truck once ran up on the sidewalk next to the Columbia, taking out a row of decorative columns. Other times, someone heading south on 21st lost control and hit the restaurant, including, once, the front door of the gift shop. Miraculously, no one was hurt.

Soon, however, trucks will be banned from passing through Ybor on 21st and 22nd. Trucks making local deliveries will still be allowed.

"This will help Ybor City immensely," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who is scheduled to mark the change at a ceremony on Friday.

The change is possible, first, because of the opening in 2014 of the connector between Interstate 4 and the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. The $426 million link gives trucks a way to get to and from the port without passing through Ybor City.

In the two years since then, the Florida Department of Transportation has slimmed 21st and 22nd streets from three lanes to two, with wide sidewalks, bike lanes, on-street parking, new landscaping, old-fashioned lamp posts and better drainage, water and sewer pipes. The city contributed $2.5 million toward the $9.5 million project cost.

On Thursday, the City Council voted to remove 21st and 22nd streets from its list of approved truck routes. It also banned truck traffic along E Fourth Avenue from Channelside Drive to N 22nd Street and on E Seventh Avenue from N 22nd to N 34th streets.

Gonzmart expects the change to encourage business investment. He plans to open a new Italian restaurant, Casa Santo Stefano, on 22nd Street, probably next year.

Already, a lot of the trucks are gone. Many disappeared as construction on the roadway improvements closed lanes and brought traffic on 21st and 22nd streets to a crawl. Along with the noise, much of the soot from their exhaust is gone, too, LaColla said.

"The reduction has made my life a whole lot better," he said. "Definitely, the neighborhood is much quieter."

Contact Richard Danielson at


  1. A scooter rider navigates Platt Street on Friday morning during the calm before the storm — successive weekends of downtown Gasparilla parades. Scooter companies like Jump warn users it’s a violation of their rental agreement to operate one while under the influence. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    One company decided to pull its scooters Jan. 25 ‘out of an abundance of caution for riders and those participating in Gasparilla.’
  2. Delta Air Lines said Friday it will launch five new round-trip routes a day between Tampa and Miami starting May 4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Delta says the daily nonstop Miami service will create new connections for Tampa travelers to fly to Latin America and other international destinations.
  3. Tampa International Airport is building a new bike and pedestrian path that will loop around its under-construction SkyCenter office and hotel development and cell phone waiting lot. Eventually, that path is planned to connect to a network of regional biking and pedestrian trails. [Tampa International Airport]
    Tampa’s airport is the nation’s first to receive the designation from the nonprofit League of American Bicyclists. It was also the first to apply.
  4. In this photo from video, Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shanghai, China, dumps fuel over Los Angeles before returning to Los Angeles International Airport for an emergency landing Tuesday. Fuel dumped by the airliner making an emergency return Tuesday to the airport due to an engine problem fell onto three schools, causing minor irritation to 40 children and adults, officials said. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman) [MATT HARTMAN  |  AP]
    The fuel, described by fire officials as a vapor, caused minor skin and lung irritation to 56 children and adults but nobody was taken to the hospital.
  5. Draped against the St. Petersburg skyline on Tuesday evening on January 14, 2020, the Bella Vita is visible as it docks in Port St. Pete. The yacht is nearly 250 feet long and costs about $650,000 to charter for a week in the winter, according to broker Moran Yacht and Ship. It can accommodate 12 passengers between its six staterooms and six decks, and a staff of 22. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
    Meet the Bella Vita, a yacht almost too luxurious to believe.
  6. Ridge Road in Pasco County currently ends at Moon Lake Road. [Tampa Bay Times]
    At a ground-breaking ceremony, officials laud a road more than 30 years in the making.
  7. Readers question who determines how long a traffic light will remain either red or green and what factors go into that decision in the latest Dr. Delay. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Who controls the timing of the lights in Tampa Bay? Dr. Delay gets some answers.
  8. Pinellas bus drivers carry tips on spotting signs of human trafficking under a new program called, "We are the Eyes Of The City." Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority buses also carry the anti-trafficking message, "See something, say something." [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    ‘Eyes on the city’ now include nearly 400 operators with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.
  9. This rendering from the Florida Department of Transportation shows the eight foot tall steel netting that will be added to the Sunshine Skyway later this year to deter suicidal people from jumping from the iconic span. [Florida Department of Transportation]
    The 8-foot-tall steel netting will run along about a mile and a half of the iconic span that for decades has been a magnet for people seeking to take their own lives.
  10. A 33-year-old Brandon woman died on Jan. 7, 2020 after crashing this 2001 Chevy pickup into the back of a box truck on Interstate south of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. [Florida Highway Patrol]
    A woman was killed in a crash after her speeding Chevy pickup ran into the back of a box truck.