THEA wants park ideas for Selmon Expressway project

Over the last several years, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority has focused on transforming the available empty space under the Selmon Expressway into active community spaces.

There’s the Deputy Kotfila Memorial Dog Park in the Channel District and the Selmon Greenway, the recreational trail adorned with public art that runs under the expressway between the Riverwalk and the Ybor City area. 

Now, THEA has an online survey open to get public input to help shape the plans for the roughly half-acre of available property under the expressway at Bay to Bay Boulevard and MacDill Avenue that will be developed into a park as part of a future expressway construction project to add a travel lane in each direction.

“We’re trying to activate as many spaces as we can,” says THEA Director of Communications Sue Chrzan. “We’ve got artwork, the statue of Mr. Selmon (Lee Roy Selmon). We’ve got all sorts of things already and we’re striving to do more.”

Based on prior discussions with residents from the Palma Ceia neighborhood, THEA has already committed to developing part of the area as a dog park. But there is ample space to do more.

“In the Bay to Baty area, that’s a huge amount of space,” Chrzan says.  “We really want to activate that space and make it a place where people can go and have a community asset there.”

The survey, which is available to take online through January 27th, asks for input on a “flexible space” area that could be used for public events such as concerts, food truck rallies, yoga and exercise classes and farmers or craft markets. It also seeks feedback on possible “active space” uses such as a playground, hopscotch or pickleball, bocce ball, volleyball or basketball courts.

Chrzan says the upcoming project will include improvements at every underpass in the construction area to improve connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods. Those include sidewalk improvements, better lighting and pedestrian safety improvements at entry and exit ramps. 

Construction on the project to add a travel lane in each direction will begin in 2024 and cover 4.5 miles from the east end of the Selmon Expressway to the six-lane section near Whiting Street in downtown. Chrzan says the travel lane will be added within the existing right-of-way, without widening the road. The park improvements will be finished in 2028, at the end of the project.

For the survey and more information on the project, go to South Selmon Capacity Survey
 

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.