TPO approves FDOT proposed TIP amendments to improve flow and safety

trafficOctober 2021 – On October 13, the Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) approved funding for three groups of Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) projects: the preliminary phase of the Westshore Interchange Reconstruction project, operational and safety improvements to the Downtown Interchange, and technology to address traffic congestion along five corridors.

The TPO Board voted 14-0 to add the amendments to its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for Fiscal Years 2021/22 – 2025/26. Along with improvements at the Downtown Interchange to reduce lane weaving, speeding, and congestion in vehicles lining up for exits, the 14 amendments included the following improvements:

  1. The widening of the intersection at Cypress and LaSalle Streets
  2. Additional turn lanes at Kennedy Blvd. and Memorial Highway
  3. An additional turn lane at Boy Scout Blvd. and Lois Ave.
  4. Seawall extension and trail construction on the Howard Frankland Bridge causeway
  5. A new general purpose lane along Memorial Highway that connects to the Courtney Campbell Causeway and Veterans Expressway

“I think we’ve shown by adding in a lot of the streetscaping, the traffic calming, (and) the trails that we’re trying our best to work with community to make this as good as possible,” FDOT Secretary David Gwynn said. Funding will also support Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) technology along Florida and Nebraska Avenues, Kennedy Blvd., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Boy Scout Blvd., and Hillsborough Ave. ICM Improvements will include traffic signal upgrades, Bluetooth sensors, dynamic message signs, closed-circuit television (CCTV), and other technologies, reducing delays, improving travel time, and making work zones safer.

 Approvals praised as transformative

Hillsborough County Commissioner and TPO Board Chair Harry Cohen praised the approval of the projects, specifically the Westshore Interchange. “This is going to be transformative,” Chair Cohen said. “It’s going to be transformative for the airport and for people commuting over the Howard Frankland Bridge and going through the Westshore Interchange. Hopefully, it’s going to make a big difference from a safety point of view as well.”

Upon making a motion to address concerns about a gap in planned sound walls around the Robles Park neighborhood, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp said she was very pleased with the Downtown Interchange project. “I think it was important to do this minimized Downtown Interchange project,” Commissioner Kemp said. “We saved hundreds and hundreds of homes from being taken down with this project. I think it was really a long process working with this community to do the best, most efficient version of this project, looking at the impacts on the community.” 

Chair Cohen agreed. “The downtown work is overwhelmingly supported by what the public showed it wants to see which is a less extensive rebuild than what was initially suggested but still one that improves traffic flow and safety in the area.” 

Tampa Downtown Partnership President Lynda Remund agreed as well. She was one of the nearly one dozen public comments sent to the TPO in the days leading up to the board meeting. “We believe these safety and operational improvements to the Downtown Interchange are urgent and imperative for continued growth and safety of Tampa’s Downtown and the Tampa Bay region,” Ms. Remund said. 

To view the TPO’s presentation on the TIP amendments, please visit https://planhillsborough.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/7-20-TIP-Amendments-Presentation-TPO-Board.pdf. For inquiries, contact Johnny Wong, Ph.D. at wongj@plancom.org or 813-699-7370. 

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