Connector opens, but few see traffic shifting away from Ybor Cit - FOX 13 News

Connector opens, but few see traffic shifting away from Ybor City

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It's supposed to be a fast-track to the interstate for truckers, but days after the Crosstown Connector opened, the big rigs are still rolling right through the heart of Ybor City.

The project was meant to divert traffic away from 21st and 22nd Streets, the main north-south pathway between the Interstate and the Expressway.

Business owners say they haven't seen much change along those roads.

"Traffic has been pretty much the same so far from what I can tell. It's still really busy on 22nd and 21st," says restaurant owner Bryan Hodgson, with Shrimp and Co.

Hodgson owns a restaurant in Ybor and worries about trucks getting too close, which does happen. Every so often, semi trucks loaded with fuel, supplies or other goods collide with Ybor's historic Columbia restaurant.

"Everybody knows about the accidents that have happened in the past because of the trucks. Even the people in the parking lot of the Columbia restaurant are afraid to cross here, to the cigar shop because of the traffic," says Yanko Maceda, who owns Tabanero Cigars.

State transportation officials say the traffic changes will take time.

"There are a lot of truckers especially that are probably getting used to it. Maybe their companies haven't rerouted them yet. As they become aware of the system and companies change their routes, you'll probably see the usage keeps increasing," says John McShaffrey with the Department of Transportation.

The DOT says big improvements are planned for 21st and 22nd Streets, making them more pedestrian friendly. When they are completed, truckers won't be allowed to go through Ybor.

But that won't happen for another year and a half to two years.

In the meantime, Yanko Maceda says it has gotten a little better, with fewer semis cruising by his cigar shop.

"It went down 20 to 30 percent. It was a lot worse before," he says.

When the improvements are finished on 21st and 22nd Streets, the state will then turn those roads over to the City of Tampa. The city will then be able to take them off the designated truck routes.

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