Reversible Express Lanes (REL) Benefit Commuters and Environment
The Reversible Express Lanes (REL), part of the Selmon Expressway, is a unique roadway designed to help ease congestion in the suburban-to-urban corridor in east Tampa. It is the first transportation project in Florida to only use all-electronic tolling and is a first of its kind as an elevated segmental bridge that is reversible and tolled.
The REL serves as a direct connection between downtown Tampa and Brandon, allowing direct access for cars and buses. The design of the REL is as inventive as it is resourceful for the space that was available.
For most urban transportation projects, right-of-way acquisition is costly, time-consuming and invasive. THEA faced these issues when designing the REL. We decided to use the median not for widening the lanes, but for adding piers that would support a bigger footprint “up top.” This bridge uses only 6 feet of space within the existing median, with virtually no impact on the community and limited impact on the environment. In addition, this design not only saved THEA time and money with no right-of-way acquisitions but allowed us to create a structure that is aesthetically appealing.
In providing an all-electronic tolling system, the REL uses SunPass but also provides a toll by plate option. With 9 overhead transponder readers and 5 high-speed cameras in each direction, the REL has 99% operational accuracy for all transactions.
This unique system has led to several awards for THEA from state, national, and international groups, including the Federal Highway Administration and the American Council of Engineering Companies.
Why Is the REL a Good Thing?
- Manages Congestion – Incorporates more express lanes and options during rush hour for Tampa Bay commuters and helps to reduce backups and manages congestion by splitting the traffic between local and express trips.
- Environmentally Conscious – In many cases, right-of-way acquisitions for transportation expansions are detrimental to the surrounding habitats and wildlife. By developing a system within the already existing infrastructure, the REL reduces impacts in the local communities. With all-electronic tolling and less congestion, carbon emissions are dramatically lowered.
Reversible Express Lanes Hours
- 6 am – 10 am: Westbound towards Tampa
- 10 am – 1 pm: Split Operation
- 3 pm – 6 am: Eastbound towards Brandon
Weekends and Holidays
- Eastbound towards Brandon
Times are approximate and subject to change.