A new roundabout for Highwoods Preserve Pkwy., a new coat of paving for New Tampa Blvd. and a number of new enhancements for Tampa Palms Blvd. remain in the New Tampa/District 7 pipeline for Fiscal Year 2021, according to Tampa City Council member Luis Viera.
Issues like lawsuits and Covid-19 have slowed some of the projects down.
“They’re coming, though,” Viera says. “They’re coming.”
One project that likely already would have been done, or certainly would’ve been underway by now, are the long-awaited repaving and enhancements of New Tampa Blvd., from the New Tampa Gateway Bridge to Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
Long a prickly point with many West Meadows residents, the repaving was on the list of items that were supposed to be expedited after the All For Transportation (AFT) referendum passed in 2019, with 57 percent of voters agreeing to a one-cent sales tax increase to be used for transportation projects.
The New Tampa Blvd. project was slated to receive $1.3 million of the $280 million a year for 30 years the tax was expected to yield. However, Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White challenged the referendum language and it is now tied up in the Florida Supreme Court, which has yet to make a decision. A back-up plan for another referendum this fall has been postponed until 2022, as Covid-19 has taken precedence.
There is some good news — the New Tampa Blvd. project concept design is being funded by the City of Tampa.
“However, it can’t be completed without AFT funds, which really stinks,” says Viera, who pushed hard for New Tampa to receive some immediate improvements due to its support for the referendum, only to see it get tied up in litigation. “Moving forward with the design means they are married to the idea. So, if the AFT money doesn’t come through, it will still be funded. It’s just going to be on a longer timeline.”
The same goes for Tampa Palms Blvd., which had a total of $700,000 earmarked for Complete Streets programming, which is a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) plan for improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety and “building the right road in the right place for the right purpose.”
The Tampa Palms Blvd. project is supposed to include operational improvements to its two Compton Dr. intersections — namely potential roundabouts to replace four-way stops — as well as roadway improvements like enhanced crosswalks, sidewalks and bulb-outs (also called curb extensions) along the roadway’s 4-mile loop.
One project that won’t be held up by AFT funds is a roundabout currently being designed for the intersection of Highwoods Preserve Pkwy. and Highwoods Palm Way/Bridle Club Dr.
The roundabout will help calm traffic at the busy intersection that leads out of the Highwoods Preserve Corporate Campus (home to thousands of employees at MetLife, Syniverse and T-Mobile) and, on the other side of Highwoods Preserve Pkwy., the Equestrian Parc at Highwoods Preserve apartment complex.
The design is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with construction expected in 2021.