Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Good news for downtown Tampa's weary commuters: roads reopen Friday

TAMPA — Getting to work downtown should get easier today as workers start to haul away barricades and reopen scores of roads closed this week for the Republican National Convention.

The road-clearing effort was expected to start just after midnight, when the convention officially closed. Commuters could see roads starting to reopen this morning when they return to work.

If all goes according to plan, the local lanes on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway will reopen at 5 a.m. Friday.

Roads and sidewalks south of Jackson Street and elsewhere around downtown will reopen at various times throughout the day. In some cases, crews will push barricades to the side and haul them away later, in order to open the road, officials said. The full cleanup likely will stretch into Saturday.

Setting up all the barricades, signs, fences and tents took about 17 hours last week.

Overall, police and city officials said they were pleased with how commuters adjusted to the RNC traffic patterns. The Selmon's local lanes were closed at 50th Street and Willow Avenue, which pushed traffic onto Adamo Drive and Interstate 4.

Roads south of Jackson Street, including the Brorein and Platt street bridges, were shut down, forcing drivers to divert.

The closures caused slowdowns, notably at E Kennedy Boulevard and Ashley Drive, Tampa and Whiting streets, and on parts of Jackson Street.

"There were some traffic holdups here and there, but we're pleased the congestion was much lower than what we thought it would be," said Jean Duncan, the city's transportation director.

"We do think people flexing their work schedules was a big part of it. The a.m. (traffic peak) was earlier, and the p.m. was more spread out."

Stacie Lynn, a paralegal from Valrico, shifted her work hours to avoid the afternoon rush and a possible conflict with protesters. On Tuesday afternoon, demonstrators marching through downtown delayed afternoon rush-hour traffic for about 15 minutes on Jackson Street and Kennedy Boulevard. Lynn had left her job at 2 p.m., though, and avoided the traffic delay.

But the schedule change was tough on Lynn and her co-workers, who had to come in at 7 a.m.

"All of us are so tired," she said.

Many of the 50,000 delegates, journalists and other visitors will head to the airport today.

Tampa International Airport anticipates 25,400 departures, about 5,000 departures more than a usual travel day, airport spokeswoman Janet Zink said.

"It's going to be like a busy day during spring break. Spring break is our busiest time of the year," she said.

Another transportation problem — delegates' buses taking hours to return to hotels after Tuesday night's RNC session — was cleared up Wednesday night by RNC and city officials as well as the RNC's transportation management company.

"They corrected everything. My hat's off to them," said John Zajicek, a Republican donor from Freeport, Ill., who was delayed three hours before the changes went into place.

Good news for downtown Tampa's weary commuters: roads reopen Friday 08/30/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 10:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated


    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  2. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  3. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  4. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears


    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  5. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings