Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough to spend $1.3M resurfacing Bayshore Blvd. before Republican convention

Motorists drive past barriers along Bayshore Boulevard in the rain last September. Tampa handles some of the upkeep along Bayshore, including recent work on its bike lanes and median. 

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times (2011)

Motorists drive past barriers along Bayshore Boulevard in the rain last September. Tampa handles some of the upkeep along Bayshore, including recent work on its bike lanes and median. 

TAMPA — Despite drastic cuts to other roadwork, Hillsborough County commissioners on Wednesday approved repaving the county's signature roadway in advance of the Republican National Convention.

Commissioners agreed to empty a reserve account to come up with most of the $1.3 million needed to re-coat Bayshore Boulevard, with its mansions and condominiums overlooking Hills­borough Bay.

The idea was met with angry opposition from one of the commission's two Democrats, who said the project will leapfrog more urgent needs in poorer areas.

"I totally object," Commissioner Les Miller said. "I don't care if the (Democratic National Convention) was coming here, that's absolutely wrong."

But Commissioner Sandra Murman, a Republican who pushed the idea, argued that the convention offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the community to show its best side during the Aug 27-30 convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

She noted that some 15,000 media members, as well as representatives of many of the nation's most successful companies, will be in town for the convention. Most of them will ride along or see images of the South Tampa roadway, stretches of which are pockmarked or bumpy.

"Bayshore is our most historic, scenic road we have in all of Hills­borough County," said Murman, whose district includes Bayshore Boulevard. "This will be an economic development opportunity that we will probably never have again."

Republican Mark Sharpe said he was sensitive to Miller's concerns. But he noted that the county also is courting corporations, hoping they'll consider moving to or opening offices in the region, which could translate into jobs for poor and working-class people.

"This may in some way help," Sharpe said.

The vote was 4-2, with Republican Victor Crist joining Miller in opposition. Commissioner Al Higginbotham was absent.

Hillsborough County owns and is responsible for repairs to Bayshore Boulevard, even though it is within the city of Tampa. It also owns the Platt Street Bridge, onto which Bayshore empties as motorists drive from parts of South Tampa into downtown. The county has also overseen the bridge's recent renovation.

The county has maintenance agreements with the city, which handles some of the upkeep along Bayshore, including recent work on its bike lanes and median.

Under the plan approved Wednesday, the county would scrape a surface layer off Bayshore from Rome Avenue to Gandy Boulevard and give it a new coat of asphalt. The project does not cover concrete surface areas from Rome to Platt Street, a stretch on which car tires go pa-dump, pa-dump between sections.

Bayshore resurfacing was not planned until 2014. With the work moved up, Miller noted, the project will jump ahead of planned work along E Chelsea Street and E 17th and E 18th avenues, which cut across poorer neighborhoods in his district and are textured in places like an "alligator's back."

"So we're going to jump Bayshore over those three," Miller said. "Send that message to the public."

County public works director John Lyons acknowledged that the county doesn't have enough money now to keep up with a repaving schedule needed to prevent more costly repairs later. Ideally, he said, his department would spend up to $14 million annually on resurfacing, but it has a budget of $6.6 million this year.

The county has already delayed tens of millions of dollars' worth of other public works projects because of declining tax receipts.

But he said the work on Bayshore is not cosmetic. It should make the drive smoother for years to come, he said.

Under an option presented by County Administrator Mike Merrill, commissioners agreed to take the remaining $700,000 from a gas tax reserve account that pays for road paving projects. The money will be coupled with $600,000 earmarked for work along Boyette Road in eastern Hillsborough that didn't cost as much as expected.

"That option does not affect the roads that Commissioner Miller just listed," Merrill said, saying it won't delay any other planned road work.

Just the same, after the vote, Democrat Kevin Beckner asked the county administration to come up with a plan during budget preparations this summer to spend an equal or greater sum of money on roadway repairs in other areas, particularly poorer neighborhoods. His request passed 6-0.

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or [email protected]

Hillsborough to spend $1.3M resurfacing Bayshore Blvd. before Republican convention 02/08/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 10:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  2. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.
  3. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners


    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  4. UF president Kent Fuchs: 'Charlottesville changed everything' (w/video)


    GAINESVILLE — Wednesday evening, hazy rumors of an impending Neo-Nazi march reached some wary protesters. A few quickly rallied to denounce the marchers in downtown Gainesville, only to find plazas empty but for police.

    University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs talks with reporters Wednesday about white nationalist Richard Spencer's planned speech on Thursday. He said of Spencer: "In a small way, he is causing us to redouble our focus on supporting actions that are the opposite of what he wants." [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  5. Kenya vote chief says 'difficult' to have credible election


    NAIROBI, Kenya — It is "difficult to guarantee a free, fair and credible election" in Kenya's fresh presidential vote just eight days away despite "full technical preparedness," the head of the election commission said Wednesday as another wave of uncertainty swept through East Africa's largest economy.