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Tampa City Council postpones discussion on Bayshore Boulevard lane closure to September

Posted at 2:48 AM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 17:41:10-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa City Council voted to postpone discussions regarding the closure of portions of Bayshore Boulevard one day a month, to September.

The council was respectfully requesting Mayor Castor to consider closing the northbound section of Bayshore Boulevard and any other roads, according to city staff, beginning in June. However, due to the current pandemic, city leaders chose to put that conversation on hold.

The purpose of the closure would be to open the road up exclusively to pedestrians and cyclists.

The idea is supported by organizations like Walk Bike Tampa, that advocate for complete streets and traffic safety measures.

RELATED: Motorcyclist, bicyclist killed after deadly accident on Bayshore Boulevard

"The idea is to give people a safe place to walk and bike and to start getting people used to the idea of using this street in different ways besides cut through car traffic," said Emily Hinsdale, of Walk Bike Tampa.

This comes after Hinsdale said there have already been three deaths on Bayshore Blvd. so far this year.

However, not everyone is on board with the city's proposed plan.

The National Motorists Association said they are opposed to efforts to close or restrict the flow of traffic on the vital Bayshore Boulevard corridor in South Tampa.

"Closing or restricting travel on this critical thoroughfare will have serious repercussions in South Tampa neighborhoods," said Axl David, a Florida spokesperson for the National Motorists Association.

"Motorists will be diverted onto residential side streets, already experiencing increased volumes of children and pedestrians seeking exercise and fresh air amid stay-at-home restrictions," David said.

RELATED: Jogger killed after being hit by truck and thrown into water along Bayshore Boulevard

David said the National Motorists Association is also concerned about potential delays in emergency vehicle response.

Several members of the Tampa City Council are requesting a more clear-cut layout when these discussions are continued. They want to know what sections of the road would close, where people would park when they drove to Bayshore Boulevard and how the closure would impact surrounding roads.

Vik Bhide, the Director of Transportation, said the city is developing a study to determine that impact.

In the meantime, the City of Tampa is also looking for more community input on other possible roads to create other Open Streets Pilot Programs.

When looking at other possible locations for a pilot program, city leaders say they are considering several factors including: focusing on city-owned and county-owned roads, traffic impacts and detours, the number of driveways and residents impacted by tentative closures and emergency and transit access.

If approved, city leaders will evaluate the successes of the Bayshore Blvd. Open Streets Pilot Program and look to implement similar projects in 2021.