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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Its the latest news regarding the I-4/Crosstown Connector, CR 296 Freeway Connection to I-275, and yes...even the dreadfully controversial Gandy/Crosstown Connector. Its all here...
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Traffic fixes getting in gear
By MIKE BRASSFIELD, Times Staff Writer
Published September 4, 2007

Tired of traffic lights?

Transportation planners are, too.

They see two major gaps in Tampa Bay's freeway network, and they're now getting closer to plugging those gaps with costly new roads. Their goal: making it easier to get around Pinellas and Hillsborough counties by better connecting local expressways.

Relief is still years away. But this month, planning begins on a road that will allow drivers to go from the Sunshine Skyway to Dunedin without hitting a single stoplight.

And this week, highway officials will be plotting strategy for a road that will let drivers switch between Interstate 4 and the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway without the stop-and-go of surface streets.

"These are key missing pieces of having an expressway-type ride through some congested parts of the region," says Bob Clifford, regional planning manager for the Florida Department of Transportation. "This will change travel trips dramatically, not only for commuters but for freight movement."

Plugging these gaps can be controversial. An elevated road between the Gandy Bridge and the Crosstown Expressway was killed because it was too expensive and neighbors fought against it. But the idea might be revived someday.

Here's a rundown of the bay area's future links, in order of when - or if - they'll be built.

Crosstown Connector

About 11,000 trucks come and go from the Port of Tampa every day, most of them rumbling through Ybor City on their way to I-4, the nearest highway. They jockey for position with cars on narrow lanes. They pass by the century-old Columbia Restaurant, rattling tables and shaking walls.

That will change once the Crosstown Connector is built, a job that will start in about two years.

A link between I-4 and the nearby Crosstown toll road - an obvious idea that has been discussed for two decades - is at last coming into focus. It will be a mile-long series of elevated bridges, including some truck-only ramps from the port. It will follow a railroad corridor beside 31st Street in an industrial zone east of Ybor's historic district.

"It's all bridge. It's one expensive daddy," says Steven L. Reich, who is just finishing up his tenure as interim director of the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority. He thinks the road is needed because, among other reasons, "If there's a big delay on I-4, it's not that convenient, unless you really know the back roads, to get over to the Selmon."

The Expressway Authority, which runs the Crosstown, will talk with bonding agencies this week about whether it can afford to chip in either $45-million or $125-million for the $484-million connector, in exchange for part or all of the tolls to be collected on it.

The state will build it starting in late 2009 or early 2010. It will probably open in 2013, says regional DOT secretary Don Skelton.

The short road has major implications for regional travel, Skelton says. Pinellas drivers will be able to bypass I-275 and get to I-4 via Gandy and the Crosstown. Drivers from Brandon, southern Hillsborough or farther south on I-75 will have a shorter trip to Tampa International Airport. Drivers on I-4 will have another way to enter downtown Tampa.

118th Ave. Expressway

Pinellas County is the Land of Traffic Lights. For a place with nearly 1-million people, it has remarkably few freeways. You can blame that on decisions made in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

Now road builders are retrofitting U.S. 19 in mid Pinellas, adding overpasses over major intersections, turning it into a north-south freeway running up the county's spine.

The next big step: Transforming little-known 118th Avenue south of Ulmerton Road into a new expressway between U.S. 19 and Interstate 275, which will open an uninterrupted flow of traffic from the Skyway up to State Road 580 in the Dunedin-Safety Harbor area.

"It will make it so much easier to move north-south in the county," says Brian Smith, the Pinellas planning director. "There's always been this concern about how you get from north county and Clearwater down to St. Petersburg without getting hit with all the congestion and traffic lights."

When voters decided in March to renew the Penny for Pinellas sales tax for another decade, the biggest single chunk of money was earmarked for this project.

A whopping $70-million in sales taxes will pay for part of the work, which also will need state and federal money that isn't there yet. Smith guesses construction might start in five years or so but can't say for sure.

This month the state will pick a consultant to start designing the expressway. They'll figure out how much right of way it will need, which will affect how much it will ultimately cost, says DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.

Gandy Connector

Heading out of Pinellas County on Gandy Boulevard, past the Derby Lane dog track, there are 5 miles of freeway and bridge - until you hit the Tampa stretch of Gandy, a congested business district where four stoplights sit between you and the Crosstown Expressway.

For regional traffic and hurricane evacuation, it's a bottleneck.

In 2002, the state proposed an elevated road from the bridge to the expressway. Local officials killed it, citing budget shortfalls and neighborhood opposition.

Instead, the DOT this month will take bids on a roughly $35-million project to do major improvements on the Tampa stretch of Gandy next spring - repaving and adding turn lanes, decorative lighting and landscaped 30-foot-wide medians.

Some business owners and residents around Gandy suspect those wide new medians are a signal that plans are still afoot for an elevated expressway down the middle of the boulevard.

"It's on our radar screen, but we certainly haven't taken any action," said expressway spokeswoman Sue Chrzan. "The first step would be to bring the issue to the community for input."

Gandy residents know something must be done about traffic, but they fear an elevated road will be ugly.

"It's a political hot potato," says Al Steenson, president of the Gandy Civic Association. "I don't know what the answer is. Whatever they come up with, it's going to be a long, drawn-out process."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at 813 226-3435 or [email protected].

[Last modified September 3, 2007, 23:23:13]

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/09/04/Hillsborough/Traffic_fixes_getting.shtml
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My opinion...

First off, the I-4/Crosstown Connector will play a very crucial role in Tampa's transportation system by allowing traffic to access both expressways faster and keeping all the Port of Tampa traffic out of Ybor. By the time the elevated highway is done, IKEA should already be bustling with customers. I wonder if the connector will be tolled or not (maybe via Toll-by-Plate)? I doubt it.

Secondly, the CR 296 freeway connection in Pinellas will definitely take some load off Roosevelt, Ulmerton, US 19, etc. I hope FDOT will be able to get the funds together to build the rest of the freeway over the next few years. Then we'll see cars zooming from I-275 all the way through the Bayside Bridge.

Lastly, the next incarnation of the Gandy/Crosstown Connector is getting attention so it seems. My vision is to have an elevated structure similar to the Crosstown Elevated Reversible Lanes to be built in the median. The bridge would be two lanes with connections directly to the Gandy Bridge on the west end and the Crosstown and Gandy (and maybe Dale Mabry) on the east end. If FDOT can conjure up that type of structure, it really wouldn't look all that bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I-75 to be widened in Hillsborough and Pasco counties

I-75 to be widened in Hillsborough and Pasco counties
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Bay News 9

The state Department of Transportation will soon begin expanding I-75 from south of Fowler Avenue to Highway 52.

Currently I-75 reduces from three lanes to two lanes at Fowler Avenue, and the road can be quite a bottleneck at rush hour. The road will be resurfaced and widened from four lanes to six lanes.

"The widening is really needed now," said project manager Adam Perez. "I think it's pretty obvious to everyone that the widening is needed at this time. Of course, we're constrained by funding, so what we've tried to do is put the projects out that we're going to get the most benefit from."

The project will be divided into segments, and each segment will be constructed as money becomes available.

The project also includes the reconstruction of the interchanges at Highway 52 at San Antonio in Pasco County as well as County Road 54 at Wesley Chapel. Northbound exit ramps will also be added at State Road 56.

Perez said the goal is to minimize impact on commuter traffic.

"Most of the work that involves lane closures will be done at nighttime," he said. "So the lanes that are open today should remain open during daytime hours."

Perez also said it won't be long before the DOT works on plans to widen the interstate to eight lanes.

The DOT will hold a public meeting on the I-75 expansion Thursday at the Victorious Life Church activity center in Wesley Chapel at 5 p.m.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/...be+widened+in+Hillsborough+and+Pasco+counties
 

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^^ I would really like to know their definition of "soon". There is not any money allocated for the construction of this project in the forseeable future. Very misleading article...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
^^
I will agree with you on that one. Kind of reminds me of the TIA Interchanges project and how long that was shelved because of funding issues.
 

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I-275 Hillsborough Discussion

Phase 1 of the new I-275 North Bound lane is under way and moving really fast, it is highly noticable at Howard and Armenia, they are already constructing the first set of bridges.
They have also been examining the bridge over the Hillsborugh River which caused 2 lanes of North Bound traffic to be closed at night for the past month, and it appears they are looking at the southbound bridge now.

I read in the mytbi file of the I-275 that they were giving it "ybor" treatment through West Tampa, can anyone confirm that? I think it would be great for that neighborhood, as it is becoming a vibrant-revitalized 'hood.
I'll grab a picture of the development next time I drive by it during the day.
 

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I can snap a pic of the Hillsborough river bridge work tomorrow as it's directly outside my balcony. They drove a bunch of supports in the river and erected temporary piers on both sides that each have a crane on them. And there is indeed a lot of work going on around Howard, impressive that they have done so much so fast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I read in the mytbi file of the I-275 that they were giving it "ybor" treatment through West Tampa, can anyone confirm that? I think it would be great for that neighborhood, as it is becoming a vibrant-revitalized 'hood.
I'll grab a picture of the development next time I drive by it during the day.
The overpasses, from my understanding, will hold a similar asthetic style to that of the I-4 overpasses in Ybor. The aesthetics will compliment each neighborhood that the interstate runs through. Obviously, since West Tampa is a much older neighborhood, the overpasses there will recieve a more traditional look. The WestShore flyovers will be more of the standard FDOT look.
 

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Maybe they'll put in a large, unused fountain. :rofl:
 

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Maybe they will actually use reclaimed water and add something mildly asthetically pleasing to Tampa instead of always giving us crap while other cities beautify and develop.

Go look up the city beautiful movement from the last century . . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
^^
They're very slow at posting new construction photos. From my understanding, thier web staff is quite miniscule so uploading photos is the last thing on their list. I know this because I emailed Mr. McShaffery (from FDOT) on the issue about a couple years ago.
 

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Did they relocate most of the former buildings on Luarel else where?
Also, What do you think the new frontage streets will be like?
Are they going to put Laurel St. (assuming it will be the same street name) where it used to be, or on the other side?
Will Green street stay there? Those frontage roads will be very useful when rush hour rolls around. Thats going to be 9 lanes each direction 5 with out lights and 4 with.
 

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I notice the downtown interchange lights are always off (at least half ) since construction finished. I wrote John McShaffrey : Hello. I was curious to know why the downtown interchange lights were already out (most of them) on a continuous bases. The interchange was just reconstructed but when I travel through the area, every three days or so at night, half the lights are out. I suppose this could be a safety issue since we are still getting used to the interchange, and when we go through it, it’s dark. Thank-you for your time, Joe.
 

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I drive that freaking intersection every day N.B to Ashley St.
I have noticed that the lights are out, and its really annoying.
 

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I just dropped by the myTBI site. The drive-thru video for this project is not on the main page for this project any longer. Did it go somewhere else, does anyone know?
I was looking for it because I wanted to verify my suspicion that Laurel St is simply gone, not to return. I remain confused as to the location and/or existence of any frontage roads at all, and I still don't understand what the hell they're doing to the Hillsborough River Bridge and how, if at all, this project is going to impact the bridge and the downtown exit. Also, what's going on with Boulevard? The project notes say it will be the same as it was before, but the only thing that means is that Boulevard will continue to pass under the highway, not that the intersection will look similar. I note that they're not taking this opportunity to extend Lincoln or Habana under the new lanes. I assume at some point the same sort of work is going to be done on the southbound side, is that correct?

Grr. I wrote a whole host of questions to the contact guy there, Mr. McSharrey. We'll see if anything comes back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
^^
I have no clue. I know FDOT has substantially revised the project pages for the project ever since it was delayed. I didn't think they would remove the video though.

Also, when I did see the video before, stub ramps to N. Blvd were in the plans also. Perhaps down the road, there will be access to N. Blvd. As for Habana, I have no clue.
 

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The video is still there, but you must hunt for it.
According to FDOT's plan, they listed 2 frontage one way roads going the same direction, so Laurel St. should still be there, maybe shifted or on the left side of the N.Bound lane.
They might have changed the plans, but when I saw the video there was 2 streets running parallel with I-275, but I don't remember exactly the placement.
I am pretty sure Green Street is going to remain, and there might be some revamping to it, making it 1 way all the way to Himes, and making it 2 lanes the whole way down.
There needs to be one more exit on the west side of the river by downtown, N.Blvd or Willow. This would ease traffic downtown, Kennedy, Armenia, etc. The only problem is Cass would have to be made 4 lanes down to Willow.
 
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