Gandy area business owners oppose Crosstown extension
April 13, 2009
Tuesday's expressway authority meeting is promising to be livelier than usual.
South Tampa businesses say they're not happy with plans by the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority to extend the Selmon Crosstown Expressway to the Gandy Bridge.
The elevated, two-lane extension, which is years away and still needs city approval, would reduce rush-hour traffic on Gandy Boulevard.
That might help local drivers and commuters, but business owners such as Linda Bell of Triage Consignment Showcase, 4912 S. Lois, Ave., say the elevated toll road would turn Gandy "into a graveyard underneath the overpass."
Jim Kotsiviras, who owns two strip centers on Gandy, said drive-by traffic would drop by half at rush hour, potentially forcing many of his 24 tenants out of business.
Mikael Eskildsen, owner of the Scan Design furniture store, 4221 W. Gandy Blvd., said he expects a couple of dozen upset business owners at Tuesday's meeting of what is officially called the Project Advisory Group.
"This [project] is going to hurt everybody," he said.
The meeting is from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Monroe Middle School, 4716 W. Montgomery Ave.
Expressway spokeswoman Sue Chrzan said the public will be able to see before and after renderings depicting the 30-foot elevated road.
"We have to have community support for the project. Will some people say 'no'? Of course, you will have that with every project. There is always someone that will be opposed," she said. "But we want people to look at this and be open to the possibility."
The project, estimated to cost about $100 million, will need city, state and federal approval, which could take a year.
A public hearing would be held in mid-July.
Between now and then, the authority will meet with chambers of commerce, Tampa City Council, the Hillsborough County Commission, the state Department of Transportation, the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization and other groups to apprise them about the proposal.
Also included in the project would be roundabouts at Manhattan Avenue and West Shore Boulevard and a traffic light at Bridge Street. The entrances at the Culbreath Key and Regency Cove communities would be combined into one entrance at Bridge Street.
Tolls to the Crosstown extension would be 25 cents and collected electronically through an overhead gantry. The earliest the mile-long bridge could open for traffic would be 2015, Chrzan said.
Various proposals have emerged over the past 20 years to link the Crosstown to the Gandy Bridge. The authority maintains that if the public opposes this proposal, it will not proceed with the project.
The authority estimates that without the road, traffic on Gandy will jump to 45,000 to 50,000 vehicles daily by 2015. That's up from about 40,000 to 46,000 cars now. By 2025, traffic could increase to as much as 53,000 vehicles daily.
The bridge would remove about a quarter of that traffic.
"What we're saying to the public is, 'This is an idea. What do you think?' Hopefully, people will be far-sighted enough to say this will work," Chrzan said.
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