THEA is Driving Tampa Forward by Vincent Cassidy
THEA is Driving Tampa Forward
by Vincent Cassidy
Despite the recent slowdown due to COVID-19, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is preparing for our region’s growth. Over the past decade, we have seen an 80% increase in traffic on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. That growth and the predicted 700,000 new County residents by 2045 have THEA looking ahead for ways to ease congestion.
Over the next ten years, the agency will invest a billion dollars on several new projects designed to accommodate this growth. The improvements will provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation solutions that connect communities by reinvesting revenues back into our region.
The Selmon Extension, a 1.9-mile elevated toll road above Gandy Boulevard, will allow drivers to avoid local traffic to and from downtown Tampa to the Gandy Bridge. The project is over 70% complete with an expected opening of mid-2021. With its cutting-edge design, the Selmon Extension will become a Tampa Bay landmark.
Speaking of world-class design, we are investing $6 million to improve the lighting under our award-winning Reversible Express Lanes (REL).
The South Selmon Safety Project will enhance driver safety by constructing a concrete barrier wall in the Selmon Expressway’s median. The project extends from the Hillsborough River to Himes Avenue and will help prevent crossover accidents between eastbound and westbound traffic. This safety project is expected to be completed in August.
THEA is working on four Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Studies. These studies are the first step in determining how we accommodate the projected growth.
The South Selmon PD&E Study evaluates capacity improvements along the southernmost section of Selmon Expressway (from Himes Avenue to downtown) and the East Selmon PD&E Study evaluates capacity improvements from downtown to the East towards Brandon. These studies will help us to determine what we can do to improve travel times, reduce congestion, improve safety and enhance regional mobility, while also listening and understanding the consequences of such improvements to our neighbors along the Expressway. The benefits, cost, and feasibility of noise walls and safety barriers are critical components of the PD&E process.
The Whiting Street PD&E Study is analyzing the extension/new alignment of the Whiting Street corridor once the Ardent Flour Mill is vacated. The study also will examine the reconfiguration of the on and off-ramp to the Selmon Expressway near Amalie Arena. And, the Twiggs/Nebraska PD&E Study looks to improve the mobility issues around the on and off-ramps of the REL, historic train station and the courthouse.
Finally, I am very excited to share the MacDill Discount Program with you. Currently, THEA is building the software infrastructure needed to allow us to offer a discount to MacDill AFB employees.
As Chairman of the Board of Directors for THEA, I could not be prouder of the hard work and dedication of our team, many of whom are working from home while continuing to drive Tampa forward. And I’m proud of our community too. THEA needs your continued voice and participation to help us choose transportation solutions best designed to accommodate growth, prioritize safety, and minimize community and environmental impacts. Please visit www.tampa-xway.com to sign up for updates, learn about upcoming meetings, or share your thoughts.
Vincent Cassidy is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority.