THEA Cares: Brandon Parkway
Brandon Parkway is a three-mile toll-free parkway that feeds traffic on and off of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway’s Reversible Express Lanes (REL), providing for easy commuting to downtown Tampa. Brandon Parkway connects to Lumsden Road, Providence Road, Town Center Boulevard, and Lakewood Drive. It also provides pedestrian and biking paths that bring options and opportunities for exercise and healthy lifestyle activities.
As an independent agency of the state, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) owns, maintains, and operates the Brandon Parkway along with the Selmon Expressway, Meridian Avenue, and the Selmon Greenway.
In 1999, THEA began a community planning approach to see which projects the community needed and wanted to improve their commutes. All year, THEA hosted open public meetings. In those public meetings, local homeowners communicated difficulties they experienced accessing the Expressway in Brandon due to a lack of feeder roads. THEA created a project advisory group to find solutions. Then THEA’s Board members, agency staff, design and engineering consultants, and other interested members of the public began to iron out the details and final design for the Brandon Feeder Roads—what would become the Brandon Parkway.
Aesthetic considerations and recreational amenities were incorporated, which are not often part of road-building projects, such as parks, trails, and public art. These feeder roads would create a seamless path for Brandon-based drivers to enter and exit the Expressway and activate the space to be enjoyed for pedestrians. By 2001, construction had begun on the Brandon Parkway.
The Brandon Parkway solves many of the county’s traffic problems and gives pedestrians and bikers another route for local commuting. The green space is widely popular and often filled with families going for a stroll. Annual running races are also hosted at the Brandon Parkway.
Even as it became known as a major roadbuilder, the Expressway Authority has continued to value its role within the community and looks for innovative ways to give back. This emphasis on being a good neighbor is evident in the Brandon Parkway that went beyond just creating utilitarian entryways onto the Expressway, and instead incorporated aesthetically pleasing elements, greenways, parks, and more.