ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-- Residents in South Tampa and Northeast St. Petersburg are desperate for an end to street racing along the Gandy Bridge.
This past weekend, Tampa Police officers arrested two men involved in yet another street racing incident. Tampa Police say the drivers were flying across the Gandy Bridge and one even had two children in the car as he raced. It comes just weeks after a mother and baby were killed along Bayshore Boulevard by a driver going 102 miles per hour.
People living in Riviera Bay, Barcley Estates, Fair Oaks Park, Gateway and West Gateway say they can hear racers along 275 and along Gandy Boulevard “As clear as day, as if they were in my back yard,” explained Julie Grammatica. “It’s really loud! It sounds like we are in the middle of the Indy 500. We hear cars and motorcycles. I’ve almost been run over by them on the Gandy Bridge. It’s a matter of time before we have another accident. It’s scary,” Grammatica added.
Grammatica and her neighbors have complained about the racing to St. Pete Police. They want to know: Now that another arrest has been made, will that help deter street racing? What else do our local agencies have planned to put an end to this?
We reached out to Tampa PD, St Pete PD and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office, which all do enforcement near or along the Gandy Bridge. All the agencies tell us they have been doing enforcement but tell us it is difficult to catch the racers in action. They also talked about the trouble with changing jurisdictions on the bridges/major highways. Grammatica and her neighbors hope the agencies can find a way to work together, as they do for DUI enforcement to catch more racers “before they end up killing someone else! I have kids and I couldn’t imagine if they were to get hit by one of these speeding drivers,” Grammatica added, her voiced strained with emotion.
Here’s what the local law enforcement agencies told us in regards to racing:
We’ve been cracking down on street racing for some time. Street racing is not a new problem. It has been an ongoing effort. It gets to be a sort of cat and mouse game, as they race on one bridge, then another. We don’t announce when we’re going to do a crack down. Arrests can be hard to make because it requires several elements. Arrests on speeding or reckless driving help address the issue, but it’s not the same as a street racing arrest. We will continue to do enforcement, utilizing our helicopter and other tools.
PINELLAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE:
Our Traffic Unit and our DUI Unit recently worked the Gandy Bridge and issued warning and citations. No one was cited for racing. We are often conducting traffic control on the Gandy Bridge along with the Florida Highway Patrol, and will continue to do so in the future.
ST. PETE POLICE:
St. Pete has a task force. We’ve been trying to crack down on the street racing problem after getting complaints from residents, but haven’t made any arrests. Why? Because of the changing jurisdiction. The racers appear to be stopping at the Gandy Beach after racing over the bridge, which is not St Pete’s jurisdiction. We will continue to try to catch racers on our side of the Gandy Bridge, within our jurisdiction area.