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Bicyclists seek occasional use of Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway

TAMPA — The elevated lanes of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway could become an occasional bicycle and pedestrian trail in the future, perhaps on Sunday mornings.

The Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority expects to discuss at its Feb. 23 board meeting whether to allow such activity on the 10-mile road between Brandon and downtown Tampa.

The idea was prompted a few weeks ago by bike enthusiast Alan Snel, director of South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, a coalition of eight stores in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.

"This is an idea that would be welcome for everyone," Snel said Monday. "Bicyclists would welcome it, and it would be good public relations for the Expressway Authority."

He said Sunday access to the elevated span, which is closed on Sundays, would help ease the loss of the Friendship Trail Bridge. The 2.6-mile hiking and biking trail between Hillsborough and Pinellas closed late last year due to structural problems.

Unlike the trail, however, the expressway couldn't offer fishing.

Expressway Authority spokeswoman Sue Chrzan said the agency's staff hasn't reached a conclusion about opening the roadway.

"There's a lot more to it than, 'Go ahead, go up there,' " she said.

City Council Chairman Tom Scott, a member of the Expressway Authority board, said he wants to know the financial impact and legal liability of such a move.

"It could be a good opportunity," Scott said. "I think it will help out, at least on this side of the bay."

Snel said he biked on the elevated span for a charity event before it opened in July 2006.

"It is very safe," he said. "You get beautiful views of the entire area."

Karen Kress, director of transportation and planning for the Tampa Downtown Partnership, also supports the idea.

"It would be another safe opportunity for cyclists," she said.

Snel said he would love to see the span open from 7 to 10 a.m. Sundays, at least once a month, but said he's willing to take what the Expressway Authority allows.

"We don't want to be overdemanding," he said.

Bicyclists seek occasional use of Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway 02/09/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 12:04am]
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