Sunday, September 23, 2018
Transportation

Tampa trolley study identifies seven expansion alternatives

TAMPA — There are a half-dozen ways Tampa could expand the TECO Line Streetcar — north to Tampa Heights, west to Hyde Park, looping through downtown — but each has its own mix of costs, benefits and challenges.

So Tuesday night, consultants studying the future of the Tampa trolley took the options to about 75 residents, business owners and neighborhood activists at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City campus.

"This is starting to try to understand what the tradeoffs are," said Steve Schukraft of HDR, the city's consultant on the study.

Currently, the streetcar runs just 2.7 miles, starting in Ybor City and going south and west along Channelside Drive, then north past the Tampa Convention Center to the intersection of Franklin and Whiting streets.

The longer the expansion, the higher the cost of tracks, overhead wiring and stations, which HDR expects would be about a quarter-mile apart. Crossing CSX's railroad tracks or the Hills­borough River also would cost more.

At this point, the study is about 25 percent done and has yet to consider other technical factors, including whether Tampa should switch to a different kind of streetcar vehicle. Those will come later.

The $1.6 million study has looked at seven possible expansions. On Tuesday, the crowd favored three in an instant poll using their cellphones to vote:

• 2.67 miles of new track and eight new stations along Franklin Street north to Palm Avenue in Tampa Heights, then looping west past Water Works Park before heading south again on Franklin. This could connect downtown subdistricts, help workers cover the first and last miles of their commutes and have relatively lower costs. But it would still cross the railroad, have to go under Interstate 275 and affect parking on Franklin.

• 2.6 miles and eight stations for a north-south extension paired along Florida Avenue and Tampa Street. This has many of the same issues, good and bad, as the Franklin Street alignment.

• 4.12 miles and 12 stations going north on Franklin Street, then east along Seventh Avenue to Ybor City. This could help commuters and create connections across downtown, but it's long.

Four other options won less support:

• 4.66 miles and 13 stations from Ybor City, west through the northern rim of downtown, over the Cass Street bridge and north to Blake High School. This would support development, particularly in the West River area targeted by City Hall, and have low traffic impact. But it's long, would cross the river and wouldn't have the best service to the downtown core.

• 4.93 miles and 13 stations from the Channel District, through the central part of downtown, across the Cass Street bridge and into North Hyde Park. This would create cross-downtown connections and help economic development, but is long and would cross the river, the railroad and go under the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

• 3.27 miles and nine stations to extend the trolley from the convention center across the Brorein Street bridge into Hyde Park. Along with having a river crossing, this doesn't appear to do much to create connections across downtown, spur development or help commuters.

• 2.46 miles and eight stations to create a downtown loop going north on Franklin Street, then east along Zack and Twiggs streets to the Channel District. This is shorter and would connect downtown subdistricts, but still crosses the railroad and goes under the expressway.

And there were plenty of questions: How about a route along Nick Nuccio Parkway? Or Ashley Drive? Or something that could connect to a Cross-Bay Ferry?

"I think there are better options than the ones they presented," said Brian Ray, who owns property at the north end of downtown.

The city's consultants expect to develop cost estimates over the next three to four weeks and gather more public reaction at the city's website: tampagov.net/capital_projects/studies/streetcar_extension_study.

Another public workshop is expected in mid to late summer.

Comments
Could Trump starve a Tampa Bay transit project of federal funds?

Could Trump starve a Tampa Bay transit project of federal funds?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit line has succeeded where other Tampa Bay transit projects have failed. The project aimed at connecting downtown to the beaches has avoided anti-transit sentiment while securing money and support f...
Published: 09/21/18
Local hospital groups back transportation sales tax plan with $175,000 in donations

Local hospital groups back transportation sales tax plan with $175,000 in donations

TAMPA — Two local hospital groups have donated a combined $175,000 to the group campaigning for a sales tax hike to pay for transportation improvements. They say the ballot measure will increase access to medical care and provide transportation optio...
Published: 09/14/18
Hillsborough MPO holds Southshore transit meeting

Hillsborough MPO holds Southshore transit meeting

Hillsborough MPO will hold an open house from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday (Sept. 13) at the SouthShore Regional Library, 15816 Beth Shields Way in Ruskin. The open house will cover the SouthShore Transit Study reevaluation.All residents who want better t...
Published: 09/06/18
Updated: 09/10/18

Pasco road planners push path beneath U.S. 19 bridge for pedestrian safety

PORT RICHEY — More than a decade after the city of Port Richey studied the idea of building a pedestrian path beneath U.S. 19 at the Pithlachascotee River bridge, county transportation leaders are poised to do likewise.Later this month, the Pasco Met...
Updated one month ago
State: BRT could get its own lane on new Howard Frankland Bridge

State: BRT could get its own lane on new Howard Frankland Bridge

The Florida Department of Transportation says it has a back-up plan to create a dedicated lane for bus rapid transit on the new Howard Frankland Bridge in case the current plan for BRT doesn’t work out.A draft request for proposals to design and buil...
Updated one month ago
Serious upgrade, from golf carts to Teslas, for riders of free downtown shuttle

Serious upgrade, from golf carts to Teslas, for riders of free downtown shuttle

TAMPA — Many people who ride the free, app-based shuttle known as the Downtowner are getting a shock this month when their driver pulls up.Since it launched two years ago, the service has relied on a fleet of GEM electric vehicles that look like elon...
Updated one month ago
Part of Selmon Expressway shut down until Monday morning

Part of Selmon Expressway shut down until Monday morning

Due to construction activities, crews have temporarily shut down the Selmon Expressway westbound at Gandy Boulevard with the anticipation that it will reopen before Monday’s morning rush hour traffic.In the meantime, travelers can use the detour at E...
Updated one month ago