Speed limit going up on Courtney Campbell Causeway
The speed limit is going up on the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa, after drivers complained to the Florida Department of Transportation about being ticketed too often.
New signs will be posted, likely in August, showing an increased speed limit from 50 to 55 miles-per-hour from just west of the Ben T. Davis Beach entrance to Bay Harbor Drive.
According to a memo sent to city officials from the DOT, a traffic study was performed on the Causeway to evaluate the speed limit. Its findings showed that 63 miles-per-hour was the average speed of drivers on that stretch of highway. The DOT chose to increase the speed limit to 55 miles-per-hour to better reflect the average traffic flow.
"Seems fast enough now. Maybe a little too fast," said Carolyn Tanner, who was visiting Ben T. Davis Beach from Lakeland. "Even if you want to get in another lane and turn in [to the beach], it's just so fast. You've got to be careful, or they'll run you down!"
Other drivers said they welcome the change, because the Causeway is heavily patrolled by Tampa Police, who write tickets to speeders on the stretch to Clearwater often.
"We're going to enforce the law, whatever the law says. If people are complaining about getting tickets, then the response to that is if you drive within the speed limit, you're not going to have a problem," said Steve Hegarty, spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department.
The Courtney Campbell Causeway is an area Tampa Police monitor aggressively, because of its history of deadly accidents and street racing.
"When people go out to the Causeway, sometimes they try to crank it up and outdo the guy next to them. That's the sort of thing that is truly dangerous to anybody that's around, whether it's late at night or in the middle of the day," Hegarty added.
Since January of 2015, TPD has had six cases of highway racing involving arrests, and three of them were on the Causeway. Most recently on Sunday, July 26, Jorge Picart, 33, of Lutz, was arrested for racing at speeds of more than 100 miles-per-hour on the Causeway, according to an arrest report from TPD.
The DOT made the decision to raise the speed limit, not Tampa Police.
"We are definitely wanting to send a clear message that even though the speed limit has gone up a little bit, it is going to be enforced just as much as it has been in the past, if not more," Hegarty told FOX 13.
According to the DOT, the new speed limit will take effect no sooner than July 30. The date is depends on when crews can put up the new speed limit signs.