Making Hillsborough Avenue Walkable, Bikeable In Tampa

Think Hillsborough Avenue could use some road improvements? The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) wants your input.

During a recent Crash Severity Reduction Study, the Hillsborough MPO analyzed county corridors, roadways and intersections with high crash rates, ultimately identifying a few areas that needed to be further studied, including Dale Mabry Highway and Waters Avenue, Waters Avenue and Hanley Road, nearly all of Fowler Avenue and East Hillsborough Avenue from I-275 to 50th Street.

"We did this overall crash analysis of the county and found that East Hillsborough Avenue could definitely use some help,'' says Gena Torres, project manager for the Hillsborough MPO. "There are some things we can do for cars, cyclists and people walking -- things that have been done across the country that need to be brought to Florida.''

Titled the East Hillsborough Avenue Corridor Project, the project will ultimately make traffic better and reduce crashes, says Torres. For example, after a lane was taken away to add bike lanes and bus pullovers on Nebraska Avenue, traffic slowed and crash rates dropped by up to 70 percent.

"Both traffic and crashes are a real problem here, in both the county and the state -- it's just not a good situation,'' Torres says. "We're trying to come up with inexpensive ways to ease traffic.''

According to Torres, this particular section of the road has been studied by many different agencies for different reasons: HART is looking to put in one of their new MetroRapid systems, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) recently installed new medians and the East Tampa Redevelopment is looking to do some work to make the lower-income, high-minority East Tampa community a more vibrant place to live, work and play.

"Whether residents walk, bicycle or are dependent on transit, someone in the community does these things and we need to be concerned about making Hillsborough Avenue a better road for everyone to use,'' Torres says. "Residents should be concerned.''

What will make East Hillsborough Avenue safer, walkable and bikeable? Lighting? Diverting traffic? Making space for on-street parking, buses and trees? Your thoughts will help determine the outcome of what the MPO presents to the FDOT for implementation. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 30th, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ragan Park Community Center at 1200 E. Lake Ave.

"We really need to determine the goals and objectives of the community and I think people have some really good thoughts that we won't be able to think of.''

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Gena Torres, Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization
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