TAMPA — An effort to periodically open the elevated lanes of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway to bicyclists hit a barricade Monday.
A barricade of about $130,000.
That's what it would cost to make the route safe for bicyclists, said Joseph Waggoner, executive director of the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority.
"This road was designed for motorized vehicles," he said, "not for pedestrians or bicyclists."
The biggest expense would be rental and setup fees for temporary barriers on the 8.56-mile route, he reported. Current barriers are 32 inches high. The bicycle railings required to meet insurance standards must be 54 inches.
He estimated the cost at $118,000 to $133,000 for each time the route opened for bikers.
The temporary barricades would be set up near the railing to keep bicyclists from hitting drainage holes, Waggoner said.
That doesn't include costs for restrooms, water, paramedics, police or parking.
"I'm glad you brought the issue to light. Especially as more people are using bikes to commute," board member Stephen Diaco told bicycling enthusiast Alan Snel. "Unfortunately, it does not seem to be a viable option."
Snel, director of the South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, had asked the board to consider closing the upper deck of the roadway for two or three hours on select Sunday mornings.
Snel says the precautions seem like overkill. "I appreciate their concern for safety," he said. "But if a local government wanted to make it happen, they could come up with financial backing to support that."
He suggests riders simply sign a waiver.
He and several hundred cyclists rode the route in 2006 for a charity event, with orange cones directing riders instead of barriers.
"I rode across the Gandy Bridge yesterday," Snel said. "I don't think the barrier is that high."
Board members plan to discuss options.