Chorus of 'no' greets Crosstown-Gandy extension plan
April 15, 2009
Residents and business owners still have serious doubts about a proposed elevated extension of the Selmon Crosstown Expressway.
"It seems to me that if you listen to the people who own property, who have a stake in it, that we've said loud and clear that we don't want it," business owner Larry Heard said Tuesday during a meeting at South Tampa's Monroe Middle School.
Heard and other business owners told the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority, which is proposing the road, that they would lose their businesses if the $100 million project goes forward.
The highway would allow motorists to bypass Gandy Boulevard to get to downtown Tampa, MacDill Air Force Base or the Gandy Bridge. That, in turn, would lessen the drive-by traffic in front of their stores.
The authority has been holding meetings the past six months about the proposed extension, which would need several government approvals and is years away from breaking ground.
At the meeting, the authority unveiled renderings of the elevated road.
It would run down the center of Gandy Boulevard from Dale Mabry Highway, where the Selmon Crosstown Expressway ends now, to just west of Bridge Street.
As high as 30 feet in some places, the road would tower above Gandy businesses.
That didn't sit well with many of the merchants gathered at the two-hour meeting.
Having endured two years of construction on Gandy Boulevard, Jason Miller said the 12 tenants at his two strip centers are looking for reduced rental fees or want out of their leases.
"I'll probably be half empty," Miller said. "It has nothing to do with the economy. No one wants to come in. These guys need a break."
Expressway spokeswoman Sue Chrzan said the project still needs city, state and federal approvals, which could take a year. Also, if enough South Tampa residents and businesses oppose the project, the authority has said it will walk away from it.
The road would open by 2015 at the earliest, Chrzan said. Tolls would be 25 cents and collected electronically through an overhead gantry.
A public hearing on the project will be held in mid-July, she said. Between now and then, the authority plans to hold several more meetings with city, county and business leaders.
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