Virtual Town Hall – March 5th

Virtual Town Hall – March 5th

Questions and Answers

Question

Question about the current median expansion that is taking place between the Gandy and downtown; what PD&E study covered this work?

Answer

The Selmon Safety project was solely a safety project, not a capacity project and thus did not require a PD&E study.


Question

Did you have everybody that opposed your elevated Gandy project killed? That’s my first question, and the second is why don’t you build the ’43 bridge from the west end of the Salmon over to I-375?

Answer

The Selmon West Extension will be built 30-feet above the existing roadway in the Gandy Blvd. median. The bridge will help connect those coming from Brandon traveling to St. Pete without hitting a single traffic light. The extension will stop at the Gandy Bridge.


Question

Why was the divider not put in initially?

Answer

A median divider was not required when the Expressway was constructed. THEA has seen an increase of 70% traffic in the past 10 years, and with the additional traffic and operational issues, additional safety measures were considered and are being constructed.


Question

Can you put bike lanes along the western leg of the Salmon Expressway? You own the land and it lies fallow now.

Answer

Thank you for joining us tonight. I am unsure of what stretch you are referring to. Can you please clarify?


Question

Why is THEA not including provisions in these roads for mass transit modes?

Answer

What we are building will accommodate buses and bus rapid transit on the express lanes. Upon competition, the Express lanes will also reduce traffic on Gandy which reduces transit route times and improves efficiency along gandy blvd.


Question

Why does THEA not include contractual provisions to ensure the contractors are acting as good neighbors…for example, not doing Pile Driving at 8AM on a Sunday morning right beside a high density housing facility.

Answer

On the Selmon West Extension project we did accommodate residents who live in the area by restricting the pile driving times to Monday through Friday with an occasional Saturday.


Question

So if it was “solely for safety” why could a more simple (less expensive means of safety median have been used? Like a cable type center barrier similar to what is seen on our interstates?

Answer

Due to the varying slope of the roadway and the narrow width of parts of the median, THEA does not feel a metal barrier provides adequate safety protection.


Question

Many of the local residents believe that this project was labeled as a safety project, but from our perspective it appears that the lanes are being expanded to support additional traffic. Of course they are not labeled (painted as lanes) now, but they could be and after the current PD&E the bridges could be widened and then the lanes are ready to go. Is there any truth to this theory?

Answer

The PD&E study will offer capacity alternatives, but a very real alternative will be a “no build” alternative. No decisions have been made to date on adding capacity. The Selmon Safety project, in addition to providing a median barrier, provides shoulders in the median that can be used by disabled and emergency vehicles.


Question

THEA does not feel a metal barrier provides adequate safety? Is there actual professional input that can be provided that proves the solution put in place is actually more cost effective than a metal barrier or non lane expanding method?

Answer

The decision to erect a barrier wall is not based on cost effectiveness but safety.


Question

Between Horatio and Swann and Swann and Jetton along beside the Salmon and on up to Euclid even to Himes and beside the YMCA there is room for a bike path. You need to build that, I think. Allowing bikes through there would diminish bike commutes.

Answer

The area in question runs along CSX railroad right of way, and access to their property is limited for safety reasons due to rail traffic along the corridor.


Question

It would be great to get a copy of all the Q&A from tonight.

Answer

All the questions and answers from tonights town hall and previous town halls will be available online on THEA’s website. Will send you direct link next. https://www.tampa-xway.com/


Question

Is it really necessary for construction next to our apartment complex through the night? Seriously I cant remember the last time I’ve got a good night’s sleep. Pile driving for months was one thing, the constant beep beep, beep for hours amounts to torture.

Answer

We know construction can be frustrating but the back-up alarms are a required safety function for our vehicles. Our contractor is following federal safety guidelines. We are done with the pile driving at this point.


Question

Teslas have been running into median walls out in California. Have you asked them what they need to stop that from happening?

Answer

We are not aware of this issue. THEA is a founder of the Florida Autonomous Vehicle Summit, and we will follow up with some of our AV partners to get more info on this.


Question

How did you miss your projection by 6 to 9 months? Will traffic coming into TAMPA from st Pete get any better prior to opening?

Answer

Over 4 of the 6 months that the project was delayed was due to weather, holidays and special events. It was anticipated but not included in the original estimated completion date. Yes, as the work progresses on the project, from the west to the east, the roadway will be returned to its original configuration.


Question

If you did restrict them, it was only after complaints of them doing it early on either a Saturday or Sunday…so those provisions were NOT included in the contract…I asked. Mr. Lee told me they were not. So why did you say they were?

Answer

We did not say there were “provisions” we made accommodations for residents who live the area.


Question

I moved to a house near the Selmon in 2012. When I learned about the Selmon extension, shortly thereafter, I asked THEA whether sound barriers would be constructed along the Selmon in light of the extension. I was told that there was no money for improvements for the existing Selmon. I was also told that THEA didn’t anticipate any growth in traffic in the future.

Answer

As part of the South Selmon PD&E study, we will evaluate if a noise wall will reduce future traffic noise for impacted areas.


Question

The road drainage from the new Gandy Salmon extension should flow to oyster beds, shouldn’t they? You might want to treat that water for pollution before it reaches Old Tampa Bay.

Answer

THEA has enlarged and expanded the storm-water ponds on the East end of the project which provides a net increase in water quality in the bay for the entire project.


Question

OOPS. I haven’t gotten to my question yet. Now that there is a safety project along the existing Selmon, will this include sound barriers? Will THEA do something about noise pollution? Noise and air pollution are both detrimental to our health and safety.

Answer

Please see the answer to your previous question.


Question

I just wanted to add that it’s preposterous that THEA anticipated no growth in traffic on the existing Selmon in, say, 2013, when traffic is up 95% over the last 5-10 years, as I learned during this townhall.

Answer

We are currently conducting a PD&E Study to evaluate what improvements we can make to accommodate the growth of the past 25 years as well as the growth predicted in the next 25 years on the Selmon Expressway.


Question

I’d like a little more clarification on the barrier wall safety answer please. You stated that THEA does not feel the metal barriers provide adequate safety. Can you provide some quantitative details that show how the concrete barrier would be more effective than the same type barrier used on our interstate systems where the speed limits are significantly higher?

Answer

Per FDOT Design Manual Table 215.4.1, a rigid barrier has a higher test level than any guard rail application allowed for use on the Florida highway system. Cable barriers are not rated for current crash criteria.


Question

Old Port Tampa is covered up with big trucks, an extension of the Semon to Port Tampa would be welcomed to get those trucks off the surface streets. A bridge to carry a train, bikes, and cars across Old Tampa Bay from Port Tampa extending the Salmon to St. Pete, covered to allow the bridge to stay open during hurricanes would allow more people out of St. Pete who won’t otherwise get out when the big one hits us

Answer

As part of our outreach efforts before construction of the Selmon Extension, neighbors stated that they did not want neighborhood access from the Extension. The Extension is designed to provide a direct connection between the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and the Gandy Bridge.


Question

I just listened to and watched the piece on noise barriers. I am assuming THEA has done the noise studies pre-construction. When were they done? And when will the post-construction studies be done? When the Gandy extension is completed? And, finally, if you determine that noise barriers aren’t feasible or won’t improve the noise, what then? What’s the alternative to noise barriers?

Answer

The noise study analysis is being done right now as part of the South Selmon PD&E Study. The evaluation will look at the location of the walls, the height, and also determine if noise walls are feasible. The PD&E study will be completed in December 2021.


Question

And what about air pollution? How do you measure that and what do you do about air pollution?

Answer

Air pollution is measured as part the PD&E study. Improving congestion leads to improvement in air quality.


Question

Where is the electric train from downtown Tampa, along the railroad down to Port Tampa and across to St. Pete going to happen?

Answer

The City of Tampa is exploring the activation of the CSX rails for commuter use. The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority is not part of those discussions.


Question

I should have mentioned that I’m the safety committee for my neighborhood association and, thus, I am inquiring on behalf of hundreds of households. Back to my original question…why do you find it necessary to work at night just a few hundred feet from my bedroom?

Answer

The contractor is restricted from closing lanes during the day to reduce traffic congestion during rush hour. This necessitates night work from 9pm – 6am.


Question

Walls are not the latest technology to stop sound. You can insist on electric vehicles only on certain sections that are noise sensitive. Ground paper is the best noise abatement, you shouldn’t be insisting on obsolete noise abatement, and cover the extensions with noise mitigation structures.

Answer

There are several noise abatement options available and THEA will consider multiple options as part of the PD&E process.


Question

Not until you’d already done the pile driving. The issue was, the guys were there at 8AM but were finished about 11…so why couldn’t they have just started later at a more reasonable. And if such provisions aren’t included…why can’t they be included in future contracts (will they be included, or will you all just nobody complains)?

Answer

All future contracts will contain that provisions for restrictions for pile driving during the weekends.


Question

Will there be a recording of this to listen to later?

Answer

Yes, the video and Q&A will be available on THEA’s website tomorrow afternoon.


Question

I see you just throw up your hands and claim it’s not your job to provide an electric train from downtown Tampa to downtown St. Pete. Perhaps you should be in the transportation business instead of the road building business?

Answer

THEA is a toll authority, but we very much support multi modal solutions. With our growing population, Tampa needs all transportation options.


Question

We missed the beginning,.what’s happening with the extension? to Gandy

Answer

The presentation and all Q&A will be posted on the Selmon Extension website tomorrow.


Question

Would you please expand on the Whiting St project. I’m not sure how that is connected to the expressway. Thank you.

Answer

The Authority is required to connect Whiting to Meridian Avenue when Ardent Mills relocates. This is part of an agreement with the city during the acquisition of the Meridian Street right-of-way. In addition to the Whiting Street extension, THEA will be re-configuring ramps 6A and 6B into downtown.


Question

Why were noise barrier walls not constructed as part of the Gandy extension? The noise increase will result in decreased property values for residents near the highway.

Answer

A noise study was done as part of project development. The study indicated that the only noise wall warranted was along the YMCA and they chose not to have it built.


Question

What boundaries are included in the current South Selmon noise study, ie cross streets

Answer

The noise study includes all cross streets from Whiting St. to Himes Ave. including ramps and exits.


Question

OK, you are not really answering my questions. When was the first noise study done and when will the next noise study be done? What if noise barriers are ruled out? What do you do then? What do you do about air pollution? How and when do you measure that and what can you do to mitigate it?

Answer

The noise study is being conducted as part of the South Selmon PD&E.


Question

There incessant speeding motorcycles on the Selmon Expressway at all hours of the night. Why don’t you either police it or use cameras to catch and fine the heck out of the perpetrators?

Answer

The motorcycles can only be stopped by law enforcement. I would suggest reporting it to the Tampa Police Department. You can call their non-emergency number at 813-231-6130.


Question

But as traffic increases, air pollution will increase. What then?

Answer

When cars start and stop frequently they emit more pollution than when they flow freely. So reducing congestion improves air quality.


Question

versus the 215.4.1.3 Rigid Barrier

Rigid Barriers are assumed to exhibit no deflection under impact conditions; however, crash severity will likely be the highest of all barrier options. — So, the barrier THEA installed is the one that exhibits the highest crash severity

Answer

According to the manual, a rigid barrier does not protect oncoming traffic from a tractor van trailer crash or single unit truck crash.


Question

The people building the Gandy overpass thing would easily convert to building a nice 2 lane bridge from downtown St. Pete or from I-375 to the Gandy interchange of the Selmon Expressway. Of course you will have to recognize that you need to oversee the Pinellas part of the construction, too, and possibly fund it as well as the bridge would increase traffic flow to the Salmon making it more viable than it has been up to now.

Answer

You are correct. With respect to the improvements created by that project, THEA would have to be asked by Pinellas County to pursue this project.


Question

There incessant speeding motorcycles on the Selmon Expressway at all hours of the night. Why don’t you either police it or use cameras to catch and fine the heck out of the perpetrators?

Answer

The motorcycles can only be stopped by law enforcement. I would suggest reporting it to the Tampa Police Department. You can call their non-emergency number at 813-231-6130.


Question

I thought the noise study was done before and after projects? Did I misunderstand?

Answer

During the PD&E a noise study is completed on existing noise conditions and is projected out for future traffic conditions. The decision on noise abatement measures are based upon these projections.


Question

I guess my point with this string of questions is that from an outsiders perspective it appears that there could have been more cost effective and (from the document you just provided) safer installation methods installed and with all the fill and pavement that was installed along with the center concrete median it is hard to believe that there is not an alternative motive in place support the increased traffic volume that is one of the primary tenets for the current S Selmon PD&E study

Answer

Safety was and is the concern, not capacity.


Question

There are also tested vibration abatement technologies and pollution abatement technologies for enclosed structures that you could implement to improve life along your roads. Right now, putting them in would pay for themselves in higher property taxes for all government entities. Bargain with the other government entities to get funding for those improvements as well. I know that nothing has been done behind New Suburb Beautiful to halt the noise. Perhaps you should hire some new people who are competent for what you need and fire some of the old myopic civil engineers?

Answer

Thank you for your suggestions.


Question

WELL? Please ASK if you can build them a bridge to get their people out before a hurricane! Jeepers, use your noodles.

Answer

Per our last response, THEA will have to be asked by Pinellas County to pursue that project.


Question

The noise study

Answer

The next opportunity for discussion about the South Selmon PD&E Study will be in May of this year. We will host a virtual town hall that will launch our website application. This application will include a step-by-step update of the findings of our study – including noise and safety findings. It will also show the proposed improvements and offer an opportunity to comment on them.


Question

You should all walk the length of the expressway and know better what needs to be done. Maintenance is appalling in many areas. You also need noise abatement for the whole thing, not just little areas.

Answer

As seen during the presentation, studies are underway to determine the noise impact of the proposed improvements being evaluated. Please contact us via our website for any maintenance issues so we may address them accordingly.


Question

Flexible and Rigid barriers came in as two questions but they were really meant as a single question. The answer about the rigid barrier not protecting incoming traffic really doesn’t address my overall question.

Answer

Rigid barriers offer the most protection against head on collisions and are the only proven barriers tested for trucks larger than a pick-up truck.


Question

Please send the noise study to [email protected] if it’s complete it should be available.

Answer

The noise study is now being conducted as part of the South Selmon PD&E. You can add yourself to the mailing list for the PD&E study at https://selmonstudies.com/south-selmon-pde-study/ for updates


Question

The eastern side of the Selmon Expressway is not on the CSX railroad, it is on the other side of the expressway!

Answer

There is private property along the eastside of the Expressway.


Question

Can you foresee a similar project like a Dale Mabry overpass from Gandy till past Carrollwood?

Answer

Thank you for submitting a question to us. Dale Mabry is an FDOT facility and not connected to the Selmon. FDOT would be the agency to initiate such a project. This concept could help alleviate congestion however, preliminary studies to evaluate the environmental and other impacts of that concept have not been started.


Question

Thank you. Excellent presentation. Is the underpass improvements the Mississippi one? I did not catch that. Thanks.

Answer

Thank you, Rusty. The underpass improvement is taking place on Morrison Ave. just east of Howard Avenue. Have a great day.

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