TAMPA, Fla. — Every day, Mauricio Rosas tries to bike three miles.
“Compared to 25 miles 10 years ago!” he laughed, as he began a ride down Taliaferro Ave. in Tampa. “But, you know, you’ve gotta take it with a grain of salt. Hey, if I can do three miles, I can do three miles.”
Sometimes, though, even three miles is tough.
For one, his service dog, a golden retriever named Mayo, is getting older.
“I have him because I have an illness called Charcot-Marie-Tooth,” said Rosas. “It’s similar to MS and MD. It’s hereditary.”
But his daily rides can also be tough because he said the roads he travels near Seminole Heights in Tampa are getting busier and more dangerous.
Rosas, a volunteer with the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association, fears the roads will only get busier in future years because I-275 — the main artery through the area — is currently being widened by the Florida Department of Transportation from I-4 north to Hillsborough Avenue.
The expansion project is the reason Rosas is contacting local leaders with a request.
“We need the safety improvements done on the local roads,” he said.
Rosas has asked for sidewalks on some of the roads — just off I-275 — that don’t have them currently. Particularly, he says they’re most critically needed on Osborne Ave. and Chelsea St. from Florida Ave. to Nebraska Ave.
He also would like a walk-bike path on one of the frontage roads that run beside the I-275 project, Taliaferro Ave.
FDOT says it can’t build sidewalks on a street like Taliaferro Ave., since they are maintained by the City of Tampa.
“With that said, FDOT would not be able to fund off-system sidewalks,” wrote FDOT District Seven spokesperson Kris Carson. “If they would like for them to be constructed, it would require either City of Tampa or Hillsborough TPO to prioritize and fund the construction of new sidewalks. FDOT would partner with the locals if they prioritize the sidewalks for funding.”
Now, Rosas is encouraging his neighbors to advocate for the improvements by contacting their city and county leaders. Ultimately, he believes the improvements would make the area safer, especially as the interstate expands.
“Oh, heck,” Rosas said, as he began his bike ride. “I would feel very, very safe.”