New boating speed signs coming to Hillsborough River

map of boating speed signs May 2022 – The context of the lower Hillsborough River has changed over time from an industrial/shipping area to its current commercial, residential, and recreational setting. With this, a patchwork of various inconsistent boating reduced speed zones, including “slow speed,” “idle speed/no wake” and no restriction zones also developed over time. In the past few years the City of Tampa worked to implement a more continuous and consistent set of boating speed zones on the lower Hillsborough River. On April 19th Karla Price, with City of Tampa Staff, updated the River Board, at their regular quarterly meeting, on their progress to establish and mark these new boating speed zones. Mrs. Price said that on October 15th, 2020, Tampa City Council unanimously approves changes to the 2003 ordinance that established boating restricted areas in the Hillsborough River.

Boating restrictions are overseen by the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). On August 27th, 2021 the FWC issued a permit for the installation of waterway markers on the Hillsborough River.

Tampa also applied to the Army Corps of Engineers to install the markers. Tampa submitted a permit application to Port Tampa Bay in January of 2022. The Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County has already provided a letter of approval.

The City of Tampa is planning on 49 total signs: 36 signs on piles and the remaining signs on bridges and bridge fenders.

The location of these markers will start on the north end by Lowry Park and the Sligh Ave. Bridge; continue to the Hillsborough River Bridge, MLK Bridge, Downtown area, and Marjorie Park Marina. There are a couple of gaps in the Downtown area.

Next steps include budgeting for the cost of materials and installation then public education and enforcement. Tampa expects these slower zones and markers will make the river a safer, more family friendly, and enjoyable area for all.

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