Ahead of online town hall meeting tonight, Tampa chamber backs elevated lanes over Gandy
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce has come out in favor of a $192 million project to extend the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway to the Gandy Bridge via elevated lanes.
"As a community, we must begin to view ourselves as a region and shift our focus to regional transportation solutions," chamber president Bob Rohrlack said in a statement about the chamber board of directors decision. "This project is an initial step towards a robust regional transportation system.”
The South Tampa and Brandon chambers already have voted to support the project, expected to start construction in December 2017. The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plans to extend the Selmon Expressway 1.6 miles from S Dale Mabry Highway to the Gandy Bridge. The elevated toll lanes will be at least 30 feet above street level and will be built atop pilings anchored in Gandy's median.
At 6 p.m. tonight, the expressway authority will hold the second in a series of virtual town hall meetings about the project. Residents, business owners, commuters and others can participate in the hourlong Q&A session online at at bit.ly/SelmonVTHM2 or by calling 1-888-670-3525 and using PIN number 7999624648.
The new lanes are expected to open in late 2020. Officials project the elevated lanes will carry 18,900 vehicles per day, or about 40 percent of the traffic now on Gandy. Officials say taking the pass-through traffic off Gandy should ease congestion at street level and create a link that would help if Pinellas residents had to evacuate ahead of a hurricane.
“By using the Selmon extension, commuters who otherwise would travel on Gandy Boulevard will free up capacity for local residents and business patrons who use Gandy Boulevard for neighborhood trips,” expressway authority CEO Joe Waggoner said.
Still, a 2009 study by the University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research concluded that a loss of passers-by could cut into sales at gas stations, garages, hotels and restaurants along Gandy. So in an effort to work with those properties, the expressway authority sent sent more than 250 surveys to businesses and commercial property owners in June.
For more information on the project, check selmonextension.com
To see archives for the previous town hall meeting about the project, check selmonextension.com/video-virtual-town-hall-1/