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Quote of the Day: Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg on the drivers of Tampa Bay

Jun 3, 2011, 10:30 AM EDT

Frankland Bridge

Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg was part of a panel discussion about sports in Tampa last night, and he was asked what he has learned about Tampa Bay since he bought the Rays. His answer made me laugh:

“Water is a big divide …  You know, we’ve learned really lots about what — I would say — (are) the driving habits of people. And their … ability to sort of navigate bridges.”

I’ve only lived in a place with real traffic for three years. That was Washington, and I took the subway everywhere so it didn’t really affect me. People I still know there, though, pretty much subscribe to the notion that Virginia-to-DC is tolerable and Maryland-to-DC is tolerable, but that Virginia-to-Maryland is almost always a deal breaker. Friends in the San Fancisco Bay Area likewise tell me that one bridge is doable, but if you need to take two bridges to get someplace, dude, forget it.

So, are people in Tampa Bay just one bridge more lazy than people in other cities?

  1. Conor Dowley - Jun 3, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    It really is a bridge too far.

  2. xnumberoneson - Jun 3, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Bridge avoidance seems to be a common thing even in small cities. I live in Harrisburg, PA, which has very little traffic relative to major markets. Even here, there is a psychological divide between the east and west shores of the Susquehanna River. People don’t like crossing to the other side.

  3. APBA Guy - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Having lived for significant periods of time in both DC and SF, I can tell you that there are certain non-bridge commutes that are also intolerable, such as Woodbridge to the Pentagon along I-95. In SF, crossing the Bay Bridge from the East Bay to SF is a deal breaker for sure, but a lot of people I know won’t do San Mateo to San Jose which is up and down 101. Whereas SF traffic has stabilized at “bad” right now, DC continues to get worse and worse.

    That aside, since I also spent time in Tampa, I suspect Sternberg was doing his best to be diplomatic. I’ve seen people of a certain demographic in Tampa stop dead in the their lane once they realize they are heading onto a bridge ramp. Just freeze. Then try to back up. All of this at night yet. Exciting. Even my mother, who is 83 now, moved from St Pete to Orlando because the “old people” in Tampa were such bad drivers. Her words, not mine. But she was a whipper-snapper when she said that, at 76, so no outraged comments, please.

  4. jimbo1949 - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    Down in Tampa you never know when a ship is gonna take the bridge out from under you.
    In DC there’s more to VA-MD than a bridge to cross: construction, lane shifts, entitled drivers, speeding trucks, congestion, I-95/495.
    If you’re going to the US Open later this month, from VA, you have to park in MD and take a shuttle back to Congressional. More traffic nightmares.

  5. florida76 - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    There has definitely been a Tampa Bay area trend in recent years for drivers to stop using their turning signals. Guess its not cool anymore to increase the odds of avoiding a crash. Young or old, soccer moms or people gabbing on the cell phone for no reason, it’s moronic.

  6. skerney - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    I worked for an MLB team in St. Pete for a few years. Employees would always gripe about having to “Go over the bridge” to Tampa.

  7. jasoncollette - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    I make the 125 mile drive from East Orlando 15 times a year. It’s all about wanting to be there. Bridges are just an excuse and it’s a joke to whine about traffic on one of the 4 bridges people can take over. Howard-Frankland bridge (275) is awful, but I cruise right along the tollway to Gandy and then Hw92 into downtown St. Pete.

  8. Jonah - Jun 3, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    Yeah this definitely gets discussed in The Extra 2%. My favorite thing about the bridge and the psychological divide:

    The FIRST thing you see when you complete the cross from St. Pete to Tampa is a big side directing people to George Steinbrenner Field, home of the Yankees.

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