Road Rant: Construction puts the squeeze on commuters

Road Rants

Drivers often complain that construction zones put the squeeze on their commutes. But, balancing the safety of crews and drivers often results in temporarily skinnier lanes and clogged conditions.

News Channel 8 viewer Jack thinks construction of the Selmon Extension, between the Selmon Expressway and the Gandy Bridge, squishes traffic on Gandy Boulevard in a way that’s too close for comfort. He writes, in part, 

It seems very dangerous and leaves little to no room for all of the vehicles and large trucks to go.  To make it worse, there is now even less room for cars down the side streets like Westshore Blvd., as those lanes were also reduced and cut off. I wish we had alternate routes during rush hours but someone decided to approve way too many large construction projects at once in this area.

In a response to Jack, the Selmon Extension Project Managers say the spacing of the barrels and barrier wall along Gandy Boulevard “meet the minimum requirements for the Florida Department of Transportation and The Federal Highway Administration standards which prohibits vehicles from entering or cutting through an ‘active’ construction site.”

Relaxing the barrier could jeopardize the safety of work crews. The design plans reviewed, and approved by, the Florida Department of Transportation incorporated emergency vehicles needing access along the project corridor.

The project managers add they’ve “reached out to the City of Tampa, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority’s General Engineer Consultant of the project to evaluate all means to improve the congestion situation. Unfortunately, none have been found at this point due to the space requirements for the construction and the constrained right-of-way. We’ve utilized all of the options. The roadway configuration will remain the same until the project’s completion in fall of 2020.”

Jack also mentioned he’s frustrated that one of the turn lanes from Gandy Boulevard to Westshore Boulevard has been taken away. Project managers say they are aware of the inconvenience and the roadway will return to its final configuration as soon as possible. The closure is necessary for the construction of the foundation and piers on the west end of the project. 

Updates on the Selmon Extension project are available at https://selmonextension.com/.

Send your Road Rants to Traffic Reporter Meredyth Censullo at mcensullo@wfla.com or on Facebook at WFLAMeredyth.

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