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Traffic on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa already is congested. Why does it seem even worse now?

Dr. Delay explores the latest backups aggravating Seminole Heights residents and commuters.
Residents and commuters are complaining about heavy traffic ever since the Florida Department of Transportation closed both northbound lanes on Nebraska Avenue just south of Hillsborough Avenue (U.S. 92) in Tampa on Jan. 6, to install new drainage pipes under Nebraska Avenue between Giddens Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue. [Florida Department of Transportation]
Residents and commuters are complaining about heavy traffic ever since the Florida Department of Transportation closed both northbound lanes on Nebraska Avenue just south of Hillsborough Avenue (U.S. 92) in Tampa on Jan. 6, to install new drainage pipes under Nebraska Avenue between Giddens Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue. [Florida Department of Transportation]
Published Jan. 27

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Ever since Jan. 6, when the Florida Department of Transportation decided to temporarily close the northbound lanes of Nebraska Avenue (U.S. 41) between Giddens Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue for drainage work, the complaints have been piling up.

A colleague who lives in the area described it as “a mess,” and few readers wrote to the Doc with questions and frustrations.

“I’m wondering whose bright idea it was to close the northbound Nebraska Avenue AND a lane of northbound Florida Avenue AT THE SAME TIME?” wrote Ilena Ruggeri. “My commute home is much worse than usual because of this poor planning.”

In all fairness, the DOT warned motorists on its website to anticipate “heavier than normal volumes of traffic on all nearby roads during this closure."

But it appears worse than many expected.

The roadwork has forced commuters such as Ruggeri to detour using Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Florida Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue.

Residents and commuters are complaining about heavy traffic ever since the Florida Department of Transportation closed both northbound lanes on Nebraska Avenue just south of Hillsborough Avenue (U.S. 92) in Tampa on Jan. 6 to install new drainage pipes under Nebraska Avenue between Giddens Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue. [Florida Department of Transportation]

Heavy traffic builds up on Hillsborough along the stretch from Nebraska Avenue to 15th Street E where there is a barrier wall up for crews to install a new stormwater sewer system down the median.

Typically there are three lanes operating at all times; Thanks to the barrier, there are only two.

Crews are working behind the barrier wall in both directions, and this will last for several months, according to Kris Carson with the transportation department.

Southbound Nebraska Avenue is closed, as well, from Hillsborough Avenue to Osborne Avenue, making it even more crowded on alternate streets.

“This has to be done for safety,” Carson said.

What’s the point of all of this, you might ask?

It’s part of the $9.3 million repaving project of Hillsborough Avenue between Central Avenue and North 56th Street, which includes drainage and traffic signal upgrades at Nebraska Avenue and 34th Street North.

This project began in August, and while it may be annoying, it shouldn’t last for long.

It’s projected to finish in late 2020, and according to Carson, the project is on schedule.

“The lane closures should reopen on time, around early February,” she said.

As for traffic, that may not die down until the project completes.

Traffic updates and road closures:

Hernando County:

  • 24-hour lane closures through Saturday for the U.S. 98 new bridge construction of Suncoast Parkway 2, half-mile on each side of Suncoast Parkway (State Road 589)
  • Intermittent lane closures continue through Friday for SR 50 (Cortez Blvd) widening from Windmere Road/Bronson Boulevard to U.S. 301 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hillsborough County:

  • Lane closures continue through Friday for Interstate 275 operational improvements from west of State Road 60 (Exit 39) to Lois Avenue (Exit 40B) from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Nightly (southbound) lane closures for Interstate 75 repaving from Manatee County Line to north of County Road 672 (Big Bend Road) through Friday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • I-75 northbound rest area reconstruction at mile marker 238. Rest area is closed until spring 2021
  • Intermittent lane closures through Saturday for U.S. 41 repaving from Bullfrog Creek to Denver Street from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Nightly lane closures from Monday through Thursday for U.S. 92 (Hillsborough Avenue) repaving from Central Avenue to N 56th Street from 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
  • 24-hour (northbound) lane closures through Saturday for Nebraska Avenue drainage and roadway improvements just south of Hillsborough Avenue
  • Lane closures through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. on SR 60 under I-275
  • SR 60 (Kennedy Boulevard) traffic signal upgrades at Armenia Avenue and Brevard Avenue cause nightly lane closures through Friday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Eastbound lane closures on SR 60 (Brandon Boulevard) from I-75 to Grand Regency Boulevard through Friday from 8 p.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Lane closures continue through Saturday for SR 574 (Dr. MLK Boulevard) bridge maintenance over the Hillsborough River from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • SR 582 (Fowler Avenue) median improvements at 12th Street cause lane closures through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Expect lane closures with flagging operations through Saturday for CR 580 (Sam Allen Road) widening from east of Paul Buchman Highway (SR 39A) to Wilder Road from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Expect lane closures on CR 587 (West Shore Boulevard) at I-275 through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • 24-hour lane closures continue for the CR 672 (Big Bend Road) bridge replacement from Dickman Road to Wyandotte Road through Saturday

Pinellas County:

  • Lane closures continue through Saturday on I-275 from south of Gandy Boulevard (Exit 28) to Fourth Street N (Exit 32) and I-275 northbound Exit 30 ramp to westbound State Road 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) and westbound 118th Avenue (County Road 296) from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Lane closures continue through Saturday on U.S. 19 frontage roads from 110th Avenue N to 126th Avenue N, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) entrance ramp to the Bayside Bridge, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) to 49th Street N, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from 28th Street N to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N, and SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) from 34th Street to 49th Street N from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Lane closures continue through Saturday on SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) from 34th Street to 49th Street N from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • SR 688, SR 586 and SR 580 intersection lighting improvements cause intermittent lane closures at various locations through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • -- SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) between Hamlin Boulevard in Largo and Feather Sound Drive in St. Petersburg
    • -- SR 586 (Curlew Road) between Alt 19/Bayshore in Dunedin and Tampa Road in Oldsmar
  • Expect intermittent lane closures with flagging operations through Friday for SR 699 (Gulf Boulevard) drainage improvements from Walsingham Road to Fourth Avenue North from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Monique Welch is a staff writer at the Tampa Bay Times, and the voice behind Dr. Delay. Send your traffic concerns, questions, and pictures of roadway troubles you spot in your travels around the Tampa Bay area to docdelay@tampabay.com. Follow @AskDrDelay.

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