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Closure of North 42nd Street causing traffic inconvenience for students

Emergency repairs of a wastewater line are increasing overall travel times for students commuting between class and off-campus housing. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

The emergency closure of a portion of North 42nd Street for the repair of a wastewater line has been increasing traffic congestion on East Fletcher Avenue, inconveniencing students on their way to campus.

Hillsborough County closed the street April 4 at 6 a.m for the start of repairs and is expected to reopen after 4 p.m. on April 25. The work is being done beneath the road by the City of Tampa’s Wastewater Department. 

Wastewater lines are the connective circuits that promote the fluctuation of water from nearby homes to the city’s sewers.

Some off-campus student-affiliated housing, including Avalon Heights and The Flats, are located right beside the closed street, causing excess traffic on surrounding roads such as North 46th Street. Since the two streets are parallel to each other, the road provides access to other housing North 42nd Street leads to. 

As a result, some students are frustrated that their formerly short commute to school is becoming a daily hassle. 

Sophomore biomedical sciences major and The Flats resident Ellie Miehel said traffic has gotten so bad she has been tempted to ditch driving to campus and just walk instead. 

Despite only living about 0.1 miles away from campus, Miehel estimates the closed road has tripled anticipated travel times for herself and those who live near her. She said it’s especially irritating because she had been given no heads up before construction started. 

“Before it would take me maybe like 10 minutes,” Miehel said. “I do get home around four or five o’clock, so that drive back probably takes me 30 minutes.”

Having a professor that’s strict about class arrival and attendance times, senior education major and Avalon Heights resident Bridget Thole said the increased traffic almost impacted her grade.

With most of her classes starting around morning rush hour and lunch time, Thole said she has had to make changes to her day-to-day schedule to mediate the increased congestion, such as waking up earlier.  

“Luckily, this morning, I got out early enough, but I had to plan ahead,” Thole said. “If I had hit the traffic light where all the traffic was coming from this morning … I would have been late and I probably would have gotten docked off for that attendance.”

For those who usually take North 42nd Street for their daily commute, Hillsborough County redirects them to take Bruce B Downs Boulevard to get there instead of turning off of East Fletcher Avenue.