October 2022 – Great strides were made in the last few years to have consistent speed zones for boaters on the Hillsborough River. For years there was a patchwork of “Resume Normal Speed,” “Slow Speed Minimum Wake,” and “Slow Speed No Wake” signs which led to confusion for boaters and others utilizing the river. Tampa City Council approved changes in 2020 that were successful in having a largely consistent and continuous speed zone in the lower river. However, two gaps remain. Ms. Karla Price of the City of Tampa spoke to the Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board’s Technical Advisory Council in September. Ms. Price discussed how Florida Statutes specifies that boating speed can be restricted within 500 ft of a boat ramp, within 500 ft of fuel pumps, within 300 ft of any bridge fender system, within 300 ft of any bridge span presenting a vertical clearance of less than 25 feet, and within 300 feet of a confluence of water bodies presenting a blind corner.
The first gap in speed restrictions is between the Ricks on the River Restaurant and Boulevard Bridge; a 912 ft long gap. The Florida Fish and Game Commission rules only allow for the closure of gaps less than 500 ft long. The second gap is from Tampa General Hospital to Marjorie Park. This gap is approximately 1500 linear feet.
Until a solution to closing these gaps is found, all users should take caution from fast-moving boats in these areas.