New construction projects could cause traffic nightmare in Tampa

Impacting downtown, Hyde Park, UT, Davis Islands

TAMPA — Commuters and visitors to downtown Tampa, Hyde Park, and even Davis Islands need to be ready for a major road closure beginning in April.

It’s a one week closure for just a short stretch of road, but it could cause a lot of delays and backups in other parts of downtown Tampa.

Florida's Department of Transportation (FDOT) is closing the westbound lanes of Kennedy Boulevard between Ashley Drive, on the East side of the Hillsborough River, and Hyde Park Avenue on the West side of the Hillsborough River.

The lanes will be closed from Monday, April 2, at 3 a.m. until Friday, April 6, at around noon, weather permitting.

FDOT is closing the road for major drainage work, including replacement of pipes.

The eastbound lanes of Kennedy Boulevard, which are the lanes that take drivers into downtown, will still be open during the construction project.

FDOT also says access to side streets and driveways will be maintained during the closure, and pedestrian access will still be available on the South side of Kennedy Boulevard.

There are already electronic message boards blaring the warning, and barricades and signs will be used to assist drivers during the detour.

However, FDOT warns that drivers “should anticipate heavier than normal volumes of traffic on all nearby roads during this closure.”

This closure comes as downtown commuters are already frustrated by another ongoing construction project.

More than a mile of State Road 60 (Kennedy Boulevard/Jackson Street) is being repaved to include bigger bike lanes and eliminate parking spots.

Contractors working on site tell ABC Action News that about 30 parking spots are being eliminated as a new two-way protected bicycle lane is added along Jackson street, a change that FDOT hopes will make the route more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly.

The sidewalk and curb ramps are also being “upgraded” and “extended” to make for a safer walking experience.

Drainage work is also being done along Jackson Street, including the replacement of a water main.

Some commuters say the construction is causing major traffic problems during rush hour.

Two people who work in the Bank of America building in downtown Tampa tell ABC Action News that it took about an hour just to leave their parking garage recently. 

Lane blockage is sometimes causing backups that block the intersection of Ashley Drive and Jackson Street, causing a major backup that stretched through several floors of the garage as employees tried to leave at the end of the day.

"It's been this way since they started all the construction. At 5:00, especially if there's a hockey game going on, you are stuck forever in the parking garage," Debbie Clark tells ABC Action News.

Clark parks in the Bank of America building's parking garage, and her commute to Brandon has become very frustrating during construction.

"I say some not so nice words," admits Clark. "I'm yelling at cars who can't do anything."

"I don't think they took into consideration everybody that works down here," she adds.

FDOT recently held a meeting with the property manager of the Bank of America building to review the concerns and ways to address them.

A spokesperson for FDOT's District 7 office tells ABC Action News that the district is "committed to hiring off-duty officers to help get everyone out of the parking garage during the evening rush-hour. We have also worked with the City of Tampa and signals have been adjusted as best they can. We have asked our contractor to be off the road before the evening rush-hour to help alleviate any backups."

This work is paused each afternoon at 3 p.m., but because one lane of Jackson Street remains barricaded, drivers are still encountering problems at the Ashley Drive intersection and beyond.

FDOT says the Jackson Street work will continue for several more weeks.

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