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Tampa Bay neighborhood plagued by cars crashing into homes

People demand solutions, FDOT says they're coming
Posted at 4:55 PM, Nov 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-27 09:19:12-05

TAMPA, Fla. — It's happened again and again: Multiple cars hitting multiple homes in a single neighborhood. Now, neighbors are demanding changes to curb this dangerous trend. 

When it comes to North Highland Avenue and West Violet Street, Edgar Sanchez has few words.

"It's bad, it's bad. It's terrible," said Sanchez.

Along the half-mile stretch of North Highland Avenue, there have been 96 crashes in five years. According to Florida's Integrated Report Exchange System, or FIRES which uses data directly from FDOT, half of those resulted in injuries and one of them was a death. This year alone there’s been 19 crashes.

Related: SUV slams into Tampa home; continuing trend inareafor 2018

The latest one landed an SUV in Sanchez's home. The driver was cited after Tampa Police say he didn’t navigate a curve from Violet onto Highland correctly.

"And I'm nervous right now because the fence is down," Sanchez said, concerned it could happen again. This marks the third time a car has hit his property just this year alone.

Back in July, three cars hit buildings in Seminole Heights in just a 24-hour span. Sanchez thinks there are numerous factors at play including, confusing signage, speeding, road design and growth in the community.

It's so bad neighbors united on the Facebook page "Heights Traffic Awareness Campaign" to discuss and push for changes. Some neighbors have even taken to the streets holding signs asking drivers to slow down. They partnered up with Vision Zero, an organization that aims to prevent traffic deaths and promotes pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Sanchez says the island at the middle of the Highland-Violet intersection is a source of driver confusion. We saw drivers blowing past stop signs and even going in the wrong direction before correcting themselves.

"It's a problem, these signs get knocked down — I would say — at least two times a month," he said.

But Sanchez says he's written letters and made calls that went nowhere.

"Terrifying. I don't know what the city is waiting for," he said.

The city tells ABC Action News the intersection is FDOT jurisdiction. The state explained they're working with Tampa Police to see how they can help with speeding issues. Additionally, they say that within a year they'll modify the pesky curve and add flashing LED lights on crosswalks for pedestrians. That's just the short-term improvements. 

According to FDOT, in about five years from now, the area will start to see sidewalks widened, more crosswalks and signals, medians, reduced speeds and a road diet. The state hopes to begin construction in this area by 20-25 but admits there are funding constraints.

"Florida Avenue and Tampa St/Highland Avenue from Tyler St (in downtown) to the Hillsborough River
Urban Corridor Improvements:

The project will include the following changes to improve safety and mobility:
Reconstruction and widening of approximately 50% of the sidewalks along the corridor
Additional pedestrian crossings/traffic signals along the sections where there is a long distance between existing crosswalks
Raised median islands to improve safety, where feasible
ADA improvements at intersections, reconstruct curb ramps
A reduction in the posted speed, if warranted Drainage improvements
Possible reduction in the number of travel lanes (lane reduction a.k.a. “road diet”)
Possible “premium transit” accommodations – currently in discussion with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority to determine specifics
Current Schedule:
Phase I (Tyler to MLK) - Design is underway, FY2024 Construction
Phase II (MLK to Hillsborough River) – Design to begin FY20, construction unfunded. Likely to be funded in FY25."