Plans are underway to find a better, safer way to cross Dale Mabry Highway and close what transportation leaders are calling a critical gap in the Regional Trail System.
The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Commission is working to find a feasible, safe pedestrian and bicycle trail crossing at Dale Mabry Highway.
They are talking about possibly putting in a major pedestrian trail crossover near Dale Mabry and I-275. This would allow pedestrians and bicyclists to go right over the six-lane highway.
Currently, the trail is located on the south side of I-275 and now terminates at Church Street.
This is welcomed news to bicyclists like Andra Hicks, who rides his bike and crosses Dale Mabry getting from work to school.
He's already experienced very close calls.
"I almost got hit," Hicks said. "I have actually broken my wrist last year from a car accident, trying to avoid it."
Right now, the Courtney Campbell trail from Safety Harbor allows a pedestrian traveler to find their way to the Cypress Point Park. Through the park, a trail is being constructed to connect to Westshore Blvd. There is a gap between Westshore and Lois Ave at this time, but there are plans for a connection.
Creating a crossover could help one day connect the Pinellas County trail via the Courtney Campbell Trail to downtown Tampa and beyond to Manatee county, which is one possible destination.
Once the MPO has assessed if and where a Dale Mabry Crossing is feasible, they said they will engage in community dialogue to get feedback on the route and assess how the other planning and implementation projects are or will be supporting the goal of a connected trail system.
Also included in this study are recommendations for Spruce Street Walk-Bike improvements.
The potential for this corridor to be a safe and continuous path for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel between the Westshore district, enjoying the many assets (parks, library, restaurants, friends) of West Tampa and then connect into the Downtown is very strong and natural, said Michele Ogilvie, executive planner with Plan Hillsborough.
The study for both Dale Mabry and Spruce Street should be complete in June. After that, the Hillsborough MPO will be asking the community for feedback on this idea.