I’m sure many of you have been hearing for months now about the Republican National Convention coming to Tampa. But here’s a question that you may not have been able to quite answer yet; have you planned out your commute during the event?
For some, the answer may be to completely avoid downtown Tampa at all costs. I am fortunate to be one of those people who can just take Dale Mabry Highway to Busch Boulevard and be on my way. However, I know many of you out there may have to go through downtown Tampa and not have very many options available to avoid the impending gridlock. For one thing, many city streets will be closed during the event (which is to be held August 25 through 27, 2012). This includes the Platt St Bridge, which sends traffic underneath the convention center and next to the Tampa Bay Times Forum (where the event will be held). The bridge will most certainly be closed due to security reasons. But other major thoroughfares may end up closing too. They include, but are not limited to; Channelside Dr, Brorien St (including the bridge), and yes…even the Selmon Expressway viaduct through downtown could be closed.
We probably won’t know the full extent of the road closures until just a couple weeks before the event because the US Secret Service will ultimately determine the security perimeter around the Forum and which thoroughfares will close.
Public transit will also be heavily affected by the RNC. In fact, a vast majority of HART’s bus routes, as well as both of PSTA’s express bus routes, traverse through Downtown Tampa. As a result, you can expect a lot of detours throughout downtown. My guess is that many routes will detour via Cass & Tyler Streets and then enter the Marion Transit Center through that route. My suggestion to you is to keep up to date with HART, PSTA, and local news outlets for the latest updates regarding traffic conditions, transit detours, and road closures. In addition, many government offices will be closed or have operations housed temporarily in other locations throughout Tampa Bay during the convention, so you will need to check with the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County government websites to see if the office of the service you’re inquiring about will be closed the weekend of the RNC.
For those of you who do not need to go through downtown on a daily basis, I will say again, please avoid downtown at all costs.
Please note that when the security perimeter has been finalized; HART will let patrons know about which services will be affected. You can read HART’s blog for more info on that.