Road Rants: How to navigate Gandy and West Shore congestion

Traffic

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Road construction is designed to reduce traffic congestion in the long term. The problem is, it usually causes more congestion in the short term, especially when the work is being done in a very tight area.

If you’ve traveled across the Gandy Bridge to Tampa recently, you’re familiar with the problem.

Jim Donnelly, who lives in South Tampa, is used to getting stuck in the daily traffic jam that occurs on Gandy Boulevard at West Shore Boulevard. While sitting in the log jam, he snapped a picture of the problem, pointing out at least three vehicles stuck in the median and waiting to turn left from Gandy to West Shore.

South Tampa resident Jim Donnelly took a photo of the daily traffic jam at the intersection of Gandy Boulevard and West Shore Boulevard, where construction of the Selmon Extension is underway.

That intersection is in the active Selmon Extension construction zone. Crews are installing support towers for the elevated toll road. The work required project managers to close the dedicated left turn lane. That means drivers who need to turn are mixed in with traffic continuing east on Gandy Boulevard.

Selmon Extension project managers say the change is temporary, but the road configuration will remain the same until late Spring or early Summer, 2020.

The project managers, City of Tampa traffic signal managers, and the Florida Department of Transportation don’t think that a dedicated green light for left-turns would help alleviate congestion, because there isn’t a dedicated turn lane there. Doing so would only force non-turning drivers to condense into the right lanes.

Instead, the Selmon Extension project team continues to recommend that drivers use the recommended detour, which is to continue east on Gandy Boulevard past the West Shore intersection, and make a U-turn at Trask Street.

You can follow along with the Selmon Extension progress, and receive updates on lane closures and detours at the project website.

Whether they’re related to road construction or not, feel free to send me your Road Rants! My email is mcensullo@wfla.com or you can connect with me on Facebook at WFLA Meredyth.

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