Remember a few months ago when the City of Tampa announced that they were going to add buffered bike lanes to Platt St from Armenia Ave to Bayshore Blvd? Well, that process has been underway for the past few weeks, much sooner than I expected, and it appears to be nearing completion at this point. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the finished product. 🙂
Here’s a head’s up to those who drive along I-275 to get to the WestShore Business District from downtown Tampa and points east and north, as well as those who routinely use Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) Route 61LX.
On Thursday, January 8, 2015, the WestShore Blvd off-ramp from I-275 southbound (Exit 40A) was shut down, and will remain closed for approximately five months (until sometime in May, 2015) to allow the Florida Department of Transportation to completely rebuild the ramp.
This means that commuters who are used to using this exit will need to utilize the Lois Ave/Cypress St exit (temporarily combined with the Dale Mabry Hwy exit, Exit 41A/B). Because this ramp is far earlier than the WestShore Blvd exit, commuters will need to be on high alert to avoid having to travel another mile to get off at Exit 39, the State Road 60/Veterans Expressway/Airport exit, then to loop back around via the Spruce St off-ramp. If you miss that exit, you’ll have to spend another 14+ miles going over and back on the Howard Frankland Bridge.
If you manage to enter SR 60 going north towards the Veterans Expressway, and you happen to miss the ramp for Spruce St, don’t panic. I know trying to change lanes can be a daunting task in this area. Simply take the next ramp to the Post Office/Service Road/Cell Phone Waiting Lot and turn right onto the service road. You’ll come up to a light in front of the Economy Parking Garage, turn right here and follow the road all the way to the next light, which will be O’Brien St and Spruce St. From there, you can turn left onto Spruce, then right onto WestShore at the very next light.
Alternatively, you can follow the loop around Tampa International Airport and follow the signs to enter Spruce St. Either way, this will save you the agony of traveling 14+ miles back and forth over the Howard Frankland.
For HART Route 61LX customers, your trip home from downtown Tampa will remain largely unchanged. However, because buses traveling the P.M. route will be unable to use the WestShore exit, they will be detoured off the Lois/Cypress exit as depicted in the map below. Please keep in mind that this map was made by me, HARTride 2012, and not HART itself. HART has confirmed that no stops will be skipped.
For those using Route 61LX in the morning, the A.M. trip will remain unaffected by this ramp closure, as the on-ramp to I-275 northbound from WestShore Blvd will remain open during this time. I assume however that this ramp will have to close further down the road to allow for reconstruction. Routes 15 and 45 use surface streets and will remain unaffected by this closure. Please keep in mind though that both routes may experience delays due to heavier than normal traffic as commuters get used to the detour route.
Remember, HART offers OneBusAway Tampa, which allows customers to see when their bus will arrive in real-time – via web page, smartphone app, and text messaging. Another helpful resource is the third-party Laicos Bus Finder, currently only available via web page on a desktop/laptop computer (mobile web will not work properly). Simply enter your starting and ending addresses and see where your bus is traveling, and how close it is to your stop.
As many of you know, the recent economic downturn has forced many transit districts to re-evaluate their current levels of service, as well as future plans, based on the level of funding that is available. In addition, many districts are searching for new ways to fund their transit districts, but some scenarios bring up more challenges and questions than they do answers and solutions. In the case with HART in Tampa, HART currently must rely on property taxes to fund a large chunk of its transit operations, a source that has been dwindling during the past several years. Put on top of that, the recent economic downturn and consolidation of the airline industry. Both of those factors have led Tampa International Airport to not only cancel its ambitious North Terminal expansion plan, but to also abandon plans to have an on-site transit hub for HART and PSTA buses, as well as any rail connections.
Instead, Hillsborough County officials are now exploring different options for a transit hub alongside the I-275 corridor. As many of you are well aware, the corridor is currently undergoing a massive reconstruction project that will allow for additional capacity. I mentioned in a previous posting that future plans for the interstate also include “Managed Lanes” and possibly either a light rail or commuter rail line down the median. There’s a rendering that you can view through my Facebook page of one option that is being considered along Cypress St & I-275. Regardless of where the final location may be, the transit hub would have an airport connection via a people mover system that is similar to what is already set up at the airport, as well as other airports throughout the world.
Tampa isn’t the only city looking into such an option. In fact, Miami just recently constructed an off-site transit hub that has a rail connection to Miami International Airport and their facility has become a model for others to consider. However, any intermodal center in the WestShore district is several years away and will likely hinge on any new funding avenues being opened. In my next post, I will be going more in-depth as to what Hillsborough County officials are doing to slowly revive rail talks and how the advocacy group Connect Tampa Bay is helping to make that happen.
I mentioned earlier on that I will begin a Focus Post series called Transit Staycations. This series will profile various tourist sites that you can easily get to by using public transit. For my inaugural post; I will talk briefly about Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and how you can get there using the HART bus system.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is a non profit zoo that has been around since 1957 and was recently rated #1 on the top 10 Best Zoos for Kids list by Parents Magazine. The zoo is located on the corner of Sligh Ave and North Boulevard in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa, and is open each day from 9:30am to 5:00pm (though the zoo is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). Over the years, I’ve had a few opportunities to visit Lowry Park Zoo and witness all of its wonderful animals! From Elephants to Owls, Manatees to Koalas; Lowry Park Zoo has eight themed exhibits on 56 acres with over 1,500 animals! At first glance, you may think that the zoo is small, but on the inside, it’s actually a very good size facility.
One of my favorite exhibits is the Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center, where you can view manatees, as well as a wide variety of fish and other aquatic life. I’ve always had a love for manatees and am always saddened when I hear that a manatee has been injured. Lowry Park Zoo’s wonderful manatee hospital is the only non profit manatee hospital in the world and has cared for nearly 300 manatees, according to the zoo’s website. Other exhibits include Wallaroo Station, an interactive family-friendly, Australian-themed area where kids can play in a water/splash area, feed goats, watch koalas and wallabies, and much, much more!
The Lowry Park Zoo website has all of the up-to-date information on exhibits, ticket prices, special events, and more. Single day admission tickets are very reasonably priced and annual passes are also available. All ticketing information can be accessed through the zoo’s website. Because Lowry Park Zoo is a non profit zoo, it relies heavily on donations. If you would like to make a donation to the zoo, click here for more information.
In addition to the zoo, Lowry Park also encompasses a city-operated park located across North Boulevard, by the Hillsborough River. The park is equipped with boat ramps, picnic tables, grills, and even a riverfront trail that is perfect for a morning jog.
Lowry Park Zoo is easily accessible from all points in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, and Manatee counties. If you use I-275, you will need to exit at Sligh Ave (Exit 48) and proceed approximately 3/4 of a mile until you reach the corner of North Boulevard and Sligh Ave. Signs will point you to the zoo entrance. Parking is free by the way!
- If you’re coming from South Tampa/MacDill, you can use Route 36 (Dale Mabry Hwy) and transfer to Route 41 at the West Tampa Transfer Center. Please note that during events at Raymond James Stadium, the West Tampa Transfer Center will be closed. During these times, buses will transfer from a temporary location at Gomez Ave & St. Isabel St, a few blocks away from the transfer center.
- If you’re coming from the WestShore Business District, you can use Route 45 from WestShore Plaza. Since Route 45 stops at the West Tampa Transfer Center, please be aware of detours caused by stadium events (which I noted in the last bullet).
- If you’re coming from the Town-N-Country area, you can use Route 16 (Waters Ave) and transfer to Route 45 at North Boulevard. However, Route 16 does not operate on Sundays. You can also use Route 39 (Busch Blvd) and transfer to Route 45 at North Boulevard.
- If you’re coming from the USF/Temple Terrace area, you can use Route 45 from the University Area Transit Center (UATC).
- If you’re coming from Carrollwood/Lutz, you can use Route 33 (Fletcher Ave) and transfer to Route 45 at the UATC.
- If you’re coming from East Tampa, Brandon, and other points in eastern or southern Hillsborough County, please check with HART as to which routes you’ll need to use. For instance, if you reside in around the NetPark Transfer Center (formerly Eastlake Square Mall), you can use Route 41. Brandon commuters will need to use Route 37 (Brandon/NetPark) to transfer to Route 41 at NetPark.
For the latest transit information, please visit HART’s website or call 813-254-4278.
Happy New Year everyone! With the start of 2013, I would like to let everyone know what I am working on for the month of January. Some of the posts that I am planning out include:
- Ventra: An innovative common-use transit payment system that is being implemented this year throughout the Chicago transit system.
- Paris Metro Line 12: From it’s beginnings as the Nord-Sud Line A, to its recent extension towards the northern Parisian suburb of Aubervillers, Line 12 is a vital north-south axis for the city’s growing subway system.
- Part 3 of my fantasy subway system for Norfolk, VA: Where I focus on Line 3 of the fictional subway system, which connects the military hubs of Naval Station Norfolk and Naval Air Station Oceana near Virginia Beach. The fictional line also passes by Norfolk International Airport.
- Part 1 of my fantasy rail system for Tampa Bay, FL: Since I’ve been talking quite a bit about my fantasy subway for Norfolk, I thought about reviving my fantasy rail system for Tampa. I originally sketched up a map of possible light rail and commuter rail lines prior to the defeat of the 2010 sales tax referendum.
Plus: Updates on HART MetroRapid, and MLK Holiday transit services.
In the next couple of days, I hope to have a poll question posted as well. This question will be in regards to the medians of Interstate 275 in Tampa. I won’t go too in depth, as to not spoil the surprise. However, some of you may have an idea of what I’ll be asking.
In the meantime, I invite you to check out Zac Ziegler’s latest post on Tampa’s light rail ambitions. This post comes not very long after a recent poll showed that many Tampanians now support a sales tax increase that would help fund light rail…something that seemed unclear just two years ago. If you haven’t read up on his other post regarding the 1% sales tax for transit, which he describes what could have happened if the 2010 sales tax referendum in Hillsborough County had passed, then I invite you to read that post as well, as I found it to be a very good read.
I hope that your 2013 is filled with joy and prosperity!
I know that I’ve been lagging behind on posting as of late. I’ve been trying to get into a regular schedule, but November and December have been much busier than I thought. Holiday event planning is definitely no easy task, and I’ve been having to help my family out with several different events that took place during the past couple months. Add to that; my computer problems during August and September, and my hiatus from earlier in the year. I know that in the end, I probably let down some of my viewers, and I sincerely apologize for that. I hope that with the new year, I can finally devote some time to make some major updates.
For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I would like to wish you, and your family a very Merry Christmas! I certainly hope that you are able to enjoy this wonderful day, no matter where you are located!
With all this said, I would like to take some time to reflect back on some of the major transit-related developments that occurred in 2012. I have grouped everything by month, and color coded each event as they pertain to the particular focus region that I cover in my blog.
BLUE: Tampa Bay (HART, PSTA, MCAT, SCAT, PCPT, Hernando THEbus, Citrus County Transportation)
GREEN: Orlando Area (LYNX, SunRail)
RED: Hampton Roads, VA (HRT)
TEAL: New York City, NY (NYCMTA)
PURPLE: Paris, France (RATP, STIF, SNCF)
The RNC is just days away. Unfortunately, we now have a significant hurricane threat on our hands.
Tropical Storm Issac formed in the Atlantic roughly a week ago and the projected path sends the storm right into Florida during the week of the RNC. Not far behind Issac is Tropical Storm Joyce, which formed a few days ago. The big question right now is whether the Issac will strengthen into a hurricane by this weekend. It is quite possible that it will reach at least Category 1 status by Saturday, depending on its track and how much wind sheer (if any) it encounters. The second question is where will the storm make landfall?
Government officials here in Tampa are prepared to cancel the RNC if the threat from Issac becomes too great, which I certainly cannot blame them if this circumstance occurs. There are so many visitors, in addition to residents, that would need to be evacuated…and FAST, if the storm were to move our way.
Because the weather changes so much, I would advise everyone to stay tuned to their local TV stations (like Bay News 9) for updates.
With that said, I wanted to remind everyone about how important it is to be prepared for the Hurricane season and to inform everyone that you do have options if you are not able to evacuate from the Bay Area.
Click “Continue Reading” to read further on my previous posting about the 2012 Hurricane Season.
Despite my computer troubles, I was determined to get at least one post up this week. With the Republican National Convention just days away; you may have noticed many of the temporary venues going up in downtown Tampa. At this point; many municipal government offices in downtown Tampa are beginning to pack their bags and move to satellite locations, where they can continue offering services while being away from the security perimeter that is being set up around the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the event will be held. Both HART and PSTA have finalized (for the most part) which transit services will be detoured during the week-long event. You can view the link below to see more information regarding the various road closures and transit detours during the convention.
I must stress once again that if you don’t need to be in downtown Tampa or downtown St. Pete when the many events are in motion; please avoid the areas altogether. Though St. Pete will be in the midst of the opening celebrations at Tropicana Field, an event zone has been set up throughout the city for the duration of the convention, so many streets in the area may remain closed for the entire week. However; if you do plan to be in the area; please be mindful of the heightened security presence and tons and tons of protesters. I certainly don’t want to see anyone hurt because the rules were not followed. With that said; I wish everyone a safe and wonderful rest of the month! I will be slow to post my other posts due to limited internet access, etc. for the next few weeks.
For a summary of the latest transit detours and road closures; click here.
Please note that due to the rapidly changing information; this post will be periodically updated. Be sure to check back for updates. The last update to this post was on 7/31/12.
On July 23, 2012, the US Secret Service unveiled its listing of roadway closures throughout the Tampa Bay Area during the Republican National Convention. And boy do we have a lot of thoroughfares on the list. Most of the closures will be centered in around downtown Tampa; where the event will be held. However, due to RNC events in downtown St. Pete; some roadways there will be closed as well.
In Tampa; some of the roadways to be closed during the RNC (which will be held August 26 through the 30) include the following:
- Bayshore Blvd northeast of Swann Ave (Access will be available to the Davis Islands)
- Platt St, Brorien St, and Frankland St bridges
- Basically every single downtown roadway south of Whiting St (access to Harbour Island will be limited)
- The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway between Willow Ave and 50th St (the Reversible Lanes will remain open)
- Tampa Bay Blvd between Dale Mabry Hwy & Himes Ave
In St. Pete; many city roadways will be closed; in addition to Interstate 175.
In addition to the roadway closures; parking and pedestrian access through both cities will be restricted.
Click “Continue Reading” for updates on Public Transit Restrictions/Detours.