Howard Ave. construction causes traffic nightmare for local neighbors

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jul 12, 2016

Your long commute may be getting longer thanks to a detour on Howard Avenue.

The City of Tampa is re-routing traffic on Cypress Street to MacDill Avenue, then Main Street to Armenia Avenue, to get onto the highway. At Howard Avenue and Arch Street, many drivers are skirting the detour sign and crowding a local neighborhood.

Traffic is supposed to turn at Cypress, as indicated by the sign that only local traffic can continue, but drivers aren’t paying attention to that warning and creating a substitute highway on Arch Street.

“You wake up and it’s like ‘vroom’ and you hear honking,” Sharnelle Turner said.

Even a semi-truck, which you’d never regularly see on Arch Street, is squeezing down the skinny street. Sharnelle Turner’s family has lived on Arch Street for years and, she said, since Monday it’s been a traffic nightmare.

“They speed down here like it's a road, race road or something, and what if I decide I want to walk down the street, no sidewalk and they bump up against it, see? Just right there,” she said.

There was a near miss between a motorcycle and truck, caught on camera, smack in the middle of our interview. Water main construction on Howard Avenue is sending traffic down side streets, and Arch Street is the last possible street where you can turn. On the other side of I-275, people can’t get to businesses like the Marathon station.

“I’ll always have the expense of employees but without the customers coming in and spending their money here that’s going to offset that cost for me, now it’s a loss for the business,” owner Marco Suarez said. 

The city said they’ll be completely done in a week if the weather cooperates. Turner hopes the weather and work flow are on her side. 

“Hurry up and just get it done so that way we can get the road back quiet because we normally don’t have this much traffic,” she said. 

While fixing the traffic back up is the first concern for homeowners, Suarez said he would rather have a week of construction fixing the water main than a month of flooding like last summer.