According to many Tampa residents, traffic in the area’s urban center is a nightmare. Traffic jams and long commutes are things that nearly every Tampa resident has experienced at some point during their stay in the city. Complaints have been building up at planning commissions and meetings to discuss the future of the city. Now, critics have a traffic study to bolster their complaints.
GPS company TomTom recently studied traffic congestion in nearly 300 cities around the world. Out of 295 regions worldwide, Tampa ranked 98th worst for traffic. The city was also found to have the 15th worst commute in the USA. The study also found that Tampa Bay drivers spend 34 percent more time in the car during their morning drive to work and 52 percent more time on the evening commute home.
Unfortunately for Tampa Bay drivers, their traffic congestion is actually getting worse faster than in other cities because of rapid growth in the area. Several new developments have been planned that would bring significantly more traffic to the area. Multibillion-dollar construction projects, especially along Tampa Bay’s main arteries like I-275 and I-4, are currently the proposed solutions.
For example, road improvements are expected to begin this summer for the proposed $2 billion Channelside project in downtown Tampa. The two companies involved with the project, Strategic Property Partners and Cascade Investments LLC, recently announced that they had signed a $35 million contract with Kimmins Contracting Corporation to redevelop roadways and make infrastructure improvements around the 40-acre property slated for development. The construction will be completed in phases over two years to accommodate traffic in the area.
The road work project along Channelside Drive is expected to cover a number of concerns. Old Water Street will be extended north from Channelside Drive to Cumberland Avenue to create a north-south connection. Channelside Drive will be converted from a one-way, eastbound only road into a two-way roadway from Meridian Street to Jefferson Street. New on-street parking and bike lanes will also be added.
For the road improvements, Kimmins is working with Ariel Business Group to include the ideas and opinions of minority and small businesses in the area. The agreement calls for the city’s Community Redevelopment Areas and Hillsborough County to reimburse Strategic Property Partners for expenses related to improving public spaces.