THEA to start construction this year on long-sought downtown railroad track removal

At the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s annual forum in May, Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority Executive Director Greg Slater stressed the agency’s commitment to partnering in downtown’s ongoing boom with projects that help connect the city’s street grid, add sidewalks and walking trails and activate areas with public parks and public art.

To that end, THEA plans to start construction late this year on a project long eyed to help connect that downtown street grid, the removal of the railroad tracks that run to the now-closed Ardent Mills flour mill. That will allow for the extension of Whiting Street to Meridian Avenue to improve connectivity, walkability and traffic flow downtown.

“We are working closely with the City of Tampa on a lot of stuff,” THEA Director of Public Affairs Susan Chrzan says. “This railroad track removal is the first step in our commitment to partner on connecting the street grid downtown.”

When THEA reconstructed Meridian Avenue back in 2004, the agency committed to removing the tracks after the flour mill closed. Downtown’s growth since 2004, and its boom in recent years, have only fueled the need for the project. 

THEA owns the tracks and leased them to Ardent Mills. Ardent Mills moved to a state-of-the-art facility in Gibsonton earlier this year. Its former location downtown will be a future phase of the massive Water Street mixed-use development.

Construction on the railroad track removal project is slated to start in November and continue to fall 2023. The project will also include resurfacing of the Meridian Greenway trail, improvements to signage, pavement markers and signals, improvements to pedestrian crossings and safety improvements on Meridian Avenue.

For more information go to THEA railroad removal project.
 

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather, and Florida's wealth of outdoor festivals.