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Tampa leader, business owner call for changes after car smashes into Mel's Hot Dogs

Call for changes after car smashes into business
Posted at 4:42 PM, Nov 01, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- A Tampa city leader and business owner called on the state to help prevent a tragedy on Busch Boulevard on Friday.

On Thursday evening, for a second time, a vehicle slammed into Mel’s Hot Dogs.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Car smashes into Mel's Hot Dogs on Busch Blvd., no one hurt

Owner Mel Lohn and Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera were proposing to drop the speed limit 10 to 15 mph — from the posted speed of 45 mph.

“Speed kills. Slow down; moron. OK, actually they wouldn’t be morons, they’d be less-ons, because a lot less up there,” Lohn said motioning towards his head.

Lohn was cracking jokes just hours after a car slammed into his restaurant. He was speaking to ABC Action News in front of the boarded up window with a spray painted message reading “Yes We’re open Please don’t drive In.”

But really, he said, the issue of drivers going over the speed limit on East Busch Boulevard was no laughing matter.

“Because it’s 45 people are going 60, 65 miles an hour down Busch; it’s crazy,” Lohn said.

That’s why Councilman Luis Viera was calling on FDOT to address the public at a city council meeting, soon, to talk about the speed limit issue on Busch Boulevard as they work on their study of the area that is coming out in 2020.

“Because I think after an incident like this the community is a little bit outraged and goes listen, ‘what are you all doing to do your first step?’ Public safety is the first priority for local government and we gotta send the message to people that we are taking this as serious as a heart attack, as serious as a vehicle going through Mel’s Hot Dogs,” Councilman Viera said.

Here is the response from FDOT regarding the speed issue on Busch Boulevard:

"The department is finalizing design plans to include 4 Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons or High-Intensity Activated crosswalk Beacon (Hawks) along East Busch Blvd. from Nebraska Avenue to 56th Street. These pedestrian mid-block crossings will be located at: 12th Street; Brooks Avenue; Pawnee Avenue and Overlook Drive from west to east respectively. These projects will be let to bid in December 2019 with expected construction start in Spring 2020."

With the addition of these mid-block crossings and frequency of pedestrians, we anticipate the operating speed on East Busch Blvd. to change in a manner to modify driver behavior, causing a reduction in speed. We will evaluate the speed 3-6 months after construction to validate, around Spring 2021.

Viera said he intended on asking FDOT to come present at a city council meeting within the next several weeks.

An FDOT spokesperson told ABC Action News they would have no problem presenting.