Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Traffic changes looming in Tampa, St. Petersburg for Republican convention

TAMPA — So far it has been all talk: the 400 buses, the road closings and detours, the 50,000 delegates, protesters, journalists and other visitors squeezed into 1.3 square miles between the Hillsborough River and Channelside Drive.

But starting at 7 p.m. today, the talk shifts to action with a 17-hour overhaul of downtown to make it secure — and traffic-ready — for Monday's kickoff of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Most downtown workers won't see the effects of that effort until their Monday morning commute. Basically, it boils down to this:

• Nearly half of downtown — generally south of Jackson Street, but also parts of Madison and Franklin streets — is closed to vehicles. Look for plastic barrels and water-filled Jersey barriers blocking intersections.

• Metal fencing stretched along Brorein Street to envelop the Times Forum, the Tampa Convention Center, Channelside and Harbour Island to keep out pedestrians.

• Dozens of temporary signs, including electronic message boards, directing drivers entering downtown from, among other places, Ashley Drive, Bayshore Boulevard, Cass Street, Channelside Drive, Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa Street, Twiggs Street and the Selmon Expressway's reversible lanes at Meridian Avenue.

• Hundreds of uniformed police — on foot, in cars, and on horses, bicycles and motorcycles.

"It's really off the charts compared to anything we've ever dealt with, in terms of the size and scale," Transportation Manager Jean Duncan said.

Keep in mind that officials expect more traffic in the afternoons than mornings because most of the RNC-related events are late in the day, so those hundreds of delegate buses aren't likely to roll into town until mid- or late-afternoon. There's no telling, however, when protesters will gear up. Generally, officials are advising downtown workers to come early and leave early to avoid the crush.

In St. Petersburg, the festivities start Sunday night with a massive welcome party at Tropicana Field. Drivers will see road closures around the stadium from 5 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Monday. Interstate 175 will close at 2 p.m. Sunday and reopen at 11:59 p.m. Parking restrictions start at 6 p.m. today and last until 6 a.m. Monday. Parking restrictions around some hotels will last until 2 a.m. Aug. 31.

Rich Shopes can be reached at or (813) 661-2454.

Heading downtown?

Things to remember when heading to downtown Tampa:

• The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway is closed between Willow Avenue and 50th Street from 12:30 a.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Aug. 31. The Selmon's reversible lanes will stay open.

• The detour on Bayshore Boulevard at Swann Avenue takes northbound drivers to the Cass Street bridge. Motorists on South Boulevard won't be permitted to turn right onto Kennedy.

• Route changes affect HART buses, the in-town trolley and the TECO streetcar. Nineteen bus routes are affected. Go to for details.

• School hours and bus routes change in downtown and South Tampa. The Rampello Downtown Partnership School will close. Schools on Harbour Island and Davis Islands will post route information. Updates for Gorrie Elementary, Wilson Middle and Plant High schools are at

• The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority has RNC travel tips, including car pool information, at Tampa's website,, also has traffic details. Click "City of Tampa RNC Information."

Traffic changes looming in Tampa, St. Petersburg for Republican convention 08/23/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 24, 2012 5:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs


    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater


    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks


    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  5. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here (w/ video)

    The Heater


    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, it better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher it can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]