Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Stretch of South Tampa's Bay to Bay Boulevard could drop to three lanes

TAMPA

Palma Ceia is a neighborhood where walking is enjoying something of a renaissance.

A home-grown group, the Sidewalk Stompers, consists of parents and students who promote walking by strolling to Roosevelt Elementary together. The PTA and merchants have given prizes to students and classes with lots of walkers. And in a year and a half, the number of students walking to school has more than doubled.

But for some parents and others, there's a disincentive to walking: Bay to Bay Boulevard.

"A recipe for disaster," says Tim Scheu, a co-founder of the Sidewalk Stompers. Old utility poles planted in the middle of sidewalks make it difficult to maneuver around them, especially for anyone with a wheelchair or stroller. And the traffic is fast enough that a lot of parents north of Bay to Bay are leery of their kids crossing it to walk to school. "The Bay to Bay corridor really fails to live up to its potential."

That could change next spring.

Tampa and Hillsborough County officials are working on plans to resurface and reconfigure Bay to Bay from Dale Mabry Highway to Bayshore Boulevard.

From Dale Mabry to Esperanza Avenue, which is a block west of MacDill Avenue, Bay to Bay could go from four to three lanes — one in each direction and a turn lane in the middle. Taking out one lane of traffic also would allow officials to put a bike lane protected by a 2-foot buffer on each side of the road.

From Esperanza east to Bayshore, there's simply too much traffic — a lot of it making left turns at several closely spaced intersections — to allow for any reduction in lanes. So the recommendation is for Bay to Bay to remain four lanes. There Bay to Bay's pavement could be painted to designate "sharrows" — shared lanes for both cars and bikes. And gaps in the sidewalks would be filled in.

Officials think traffic on Bay to Bay can be slowed down, making it safer for cyclists, without causing congestion on a road that carries 13,800 to 18,000 vehicles a day. A draft of a study done for the city by DKS Associates concludes that reducing lanes from four to three would "maintain existing acceptable traffic conditions, but result in longer queues in the single through lanes" at intersections with traffic lights.

Bay to Bay is in the city of Tampa but is owned by Hillsborough County, so both governments are working on plans for a project estimated to cost $600,000. Officials plan to hold a public meeting in the fall to outline their plans and get residents' reactions to the project.

Already, however, some residents have weighed in on the social network NextDoor.

"Dumbest idea ever," wrote one. Said another: "Can you imagine the lines at Dale Mabry and MacDill? ... Horrible. And yes, people will begin to use more smaller neighborhood streets as cut-throughs, endangering kids and pets."

The skepticism does not surprise city officials.

"We don't do any project where somebody doesn't have a concern about it," city transportation and stormwater services director Jean Duncan said. "We're very comfortable with the traffic that can be accommodated with the proposed changes."

The Bay to Bay project will be similar to a reconfiguration done last year on Palm Avenue, Duncan said. There, the city added grassy medians, left-turn lanes, bike lanes and mid-block pedestrian crosswalks from Nebraska Avenue to Tampa Street.

On Bay to Bay, county funding will cover work only from Dale Mabry to Bayshore, and the city plans to contribute some funds to ensure that recommended sidewalk expansions are included in the project. Making similar changes from Dale Mabry west to West Shore Boulevard would have to be done in the future.

The work can't start soon enough for Palma Ceia resident Taylor Ralph.

"I always thought that the road needed to be calmed down," he said. "As someone who walks in the neighborhood with my children and rides a bike pretty frequently creating a more safe environment on Bay to Bay would definitely be beneficial. … It's a very unsafe situation."

Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

Stretch of South Tampa's Bay to Bay Boulevard could drop to three lanes 07/26/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 2, 2017 6:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
[LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Times
 file photo]

  2. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  3. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended

    Nation

    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  4. 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.
  5. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate

    Elections

    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.