By Brad Stager
Commuters from the Brandon and SouthShore areas of Hillsborough County rely on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway to provide smooth and speedy passage between their suburban homes and work or recreational opportunities in Tampa.
To keep things moving along the east-west conduit, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA), which owns and operates the road, is planning ahead for expanding the number of travel lanes available.
The South Selmon Project Development and Environment Study is underway to determine a course of action to expand a 4.5-mile stretch of the Selmon Expressway from just northeast of its terminus at Gandy Blvd. to Whiting St. in downtown Tampa. The study will be used to learn how neighborhoods, businesses and the natural environment will be affected by a transportation project.
According to information provided by THEA, transportation officials expect eight expressway traffic lanes will be needed east of Willow St. to Whiting St. by 2033 and eight lanes will be needed for the length of the South Selmon project area by 2046.
Initial public input on a set of alternative solutions showed that the community had a preference for the plan labeled Alternative 6, which provides noise-reducing walls for the entire length of the project and initially widens the roadway to six lanes, eventually widening to eight lanes.
Another option, Alternative 2, initially widens the roadway to the ultimate goal of eight lanes and provides for constructing sound barriers between the expressway and adjacent neighborhoods only for portions of the project area.
THEA officials said public input and support is important in developing solutions so that drivers will use the expressway and not neighborhood roads. According to Sue Chrzan, director of public affairs and communications for THEA, the initial period for public comment has passed, but input is still needed as the project moves forward.
“Any comments received will still become part of the study’s record and will be considered by the study team,” Chrzan wrote in an email. “We will also be holding a public meeting in early 2021 which will provide another opportunity for the public to make comments.”