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Businesses upset over safety road updates along Himes Avenue, say road is worse than before

Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 20, 2019

For years the city of Tampa looked into ways to make a section of Himes Avenue, not far from Raymond James Stadium, safer.

Businesses along the Kennedy Boulevard to Columbus corridor tell ABC Action News that the safety updates have not made the road safer, but think it's worse.

"All day long, I see cars jump over the medians, make u turns, road rage at the corner," said Joseph Fernandez, who works at Empire Barbershop.

We caught some dangerous behaviors on camera:

Businesses upset over safety updates along Himes Avenue

According to a city of Tampa, Himes Avenue Safety Improvements study they said that there were 86 crashes from 2009 to 2011 making it one of the top three roads for severe or fatal clusters in Tampa.

The city received a grant from FDOT Highway Safety Improvement program to make the updates that were finished the summer of 2018.

Those updates including dropping the speed limit to 35, adding pedestrian crosswalks, a bike lane and they removed the left hand turns forcing drivers to make U-turns.

ABC Action News looked into a state database of crashes and found there were 33 crashes from October to March.

We ran the same time period for 2012 to 2013 and found there were 26 crashes and we ran the numbers from 2015 to 2016 and found there were 39 for that six month time period.

The city's transportation director, Jean Duncan, will appear before city council on Thursday with an update on the safety improvements.

She tells us by email, "what I can say about your numbers though, is that we don’t just look at total numbers of crashes, but how they are occurring."

Duncan will be asked by city councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin why updates were only made from Kennedy to Columbus and not Tampa Bay Boulevard to Hillsborough Avenue as well.

Duncan said that at the time when they applied for the grant, the crashes were at that portion of Himes Avenue.

She adds that the section from Tampa Bay Boulevard to Hillsborough Avenue already has the raised cement medians and they just repaved the road.

"There are national statistics that indicate that when a raised median is replaced by a striping roadway condition, that crash reduction of head on collisions, as well as bicycle crashes, angle, sideswipe and fixed object crashes are all significantly reduced," said Duncan.

One of the biggest complaints on Himes Avenue now though is with the U-turns and how drivers hop the curb to make a full turn.

We found some drivers would have to make a U-turn and then back up in the road to complete the turn.

Duncan said a contractor will make cut-outs on the road to help, however an exact date is not clear.